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Saturday, 31 July 2010

Childwise praise

No matter how many accolades a world famous artist has received in his life, any further positive appraisal is always desirable and welcome. Children are no different, they need reassurance and approval at various stages as they try to decipher the world around them. How many of us recognise our child's talents and appreciate not merely their achievements and accomplishments but applaud them for just being what they are. Its cardinal to compliment them not just for mighty feats but regular patterns of behaviour that they demonstrate. I remember being at a family gathering where I saw my four year old niece walking around confidently with a digital camera and clicking everyone's pictures. In my opinion, it was a significant achievement for a four year old to hold the camera still and capture everyone in the frame. Another friend's daughter swung around from one ride to another in the play area while other kids around her moved more hesitantly and cautiously and I thought that was commendable. These are everyday instances that escape our observation and we miss acknowledging them to our children .Lets make a conscious attempt to make our children feel special and precious. Let’s get going. Let’s try out this activity.

Every weekend choose one member from your family to be the focus person for the week. Every person gets a turn. The child/ adult lies down on a piece of chart paper while the other family members draw out the outline of the focus person's body. Once that is done, all members of the family scribble around the person's outline putting down various things they like about them or positive comments on activities or tasks performed by the focus person over the week. Similarly over the next four or five weeks depending on the size of a family each member would have a body outline chart with appreciative remarks on them .Have them pasted on the walls on the children's rooms and it would just be a gentle reminder to all members to recognise positive attributes and communicate the same. It not only allows the children to feel good about themselves but also promotes desirable behaviour by reinforcing it.

Carry this out as a regular exercise. It is done best when it’s done in quick succession after the task has been performed by the child. Put down comments immediately on the child's chart while also applauding the child verbally and explain to him why you wrote what you did. Comments have to be communicated in lucid and clear language so that the child gets to understand the cause effect relationship and recognises the connection between his task and the positive remarks. This would enable them to thereby use it as an internal guide to direct their actions and behavior.Try to always praise the act and not pigeonhole the child into a certain bracket for e.g. instead of saying you are a great singer, try saying you are really good at singing. It’s an exciting exercise to go through the comments and I can vouch for it from personal experience. I maintain a task list which I have my husband comment on after I have finished a particular task. It just makes mundane tasks more exciting .As much as I am keen to have certain tasks checked off my list, I also look forward to knowing what my husband has to say about his perception of how well, quickly or sincerely I finished a particular task. Most of the time he doesn't exactly know the nature or the details of tasks I am involved in but this activity just helps us get a collective experience of tasks that are otherwise individualistic in nature hence bringing us together and converging , making us more involved in each other's lives.

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