It all began quite innocently.
My 2 boys were lazing on the couch on a Sunday and watching their favourite ‘Adventure Time’ on Cartoon Network. Soon we had to get ready to leave the house for lunch and I beckoned them to go get changed. One time, two times, three times, x times… I repeated but still my second son didn’t budge.
At that instant, I didn’t know what came over me but I just snapped. I lashed out at him and watched him cower in fear as he faced my fearsome tirade. Well, it worked mightily fine alright because he scurried away to his wardrobe while trying to contain his tears at the same time.
I was immediately overwhelmed with guilt at that moment. Then it hit me.
I realised that I have been always quick to tell my kids whenever they have done something wrong. After all, it is so much easier to criticise when one falls short, isn’t it?
On the other hand, it is so much harder to praise for good behaviour. Simply because we have such high expectations of our own kids. Good behaviour is the baseline. That is expected of them. Why praise something that is expected?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not belittle my kids. Far from it actually. But I do find myself getting aggravated at them for the most minor infractions sometimes – whether they are quibbling or just being plain tiny irritants, complete with that nerve-wrecking buzzing near my ears that just simply wouldn’t bug off.
But luckily, I have a great wife and she is the one who has consistently reminded me to see the good among the bad – atrocity is more apt I feel – in them.
So this episode made me think about how praise is and should be handled. I guess what I’m getting at is this: try to spend a little more time praising and a lot less time criticizing.
And that shall be my personal challenge. Or at least that was what my wife made me promise – but that’s another story altogether. And here is my challenge to you too, right now: Get up. Hug your kids. Tell them every way that you are proud of them. Let them know that your love is unconditional and that you will always be there for them no matter what.
My other challenge for you is to keep doing it. Even if they are pissing you off.
This article first appeared on www.maybebaby.sg/blog/, as part of my regular monthly contribution to the website.