There seem to be two camps when it comes to how to communicate with kids.
The first believes that critiquing every movement will help kids learn to be more responsible and better at what they do.
The other seems to think that inviting an entire cheerleading squad into the bathroom to do a yell every time their four year old poops in the potty is the way to have a confident child.
I donâ€™t think either is realistic. After a while, all of that praise and affirmation is meaningless â€“ sort of like how chocolate starts to taste icky after you have eaten five pounds of luxury chocolate truffles â€“ not that I have ever done that.
Or maybe the overly praised child just thinks that everything he does is amazing and is crushed when he gets out in the real world and there is a decided lack of cheerleaders after a successful trip to the bathroom.
At the same time the child who has be critiqued is constantly wondering what he is doing wrong, agonizing over each decision he makes, and has the self-confidence of a soft shell crab.
So I did a little armchair psychological research, and I didnâ€™t even need government funding! I watched the behavior of kids in public and quickly figured out which kids were which. Invariably, the kids that were the absolute brattiest were the ones who were constantly affirmed.
Oh Sweetie! You broke that expensive antique! You must have gotten to be very strong to be able to pick that up!
Oh Bubba! You just pinched your sister instead of hitting her over the head with a book! Good for you â€“ you are getting so much better!
Here is a great article in Psychology Today that talks about how to affirm in a healthy positive way, in case you are interested.