Children; a better way to praise

mc9-11Children, from the day they are born, parents have the responsibility of preparing them to be the best they can be for themselves and society.  If there was something that you could immediately do to help make the world a better place for yourself and others, would you?  This man – Rabbi Joseph Telushkin – has an interesting approach  and I want to share it with you.

Will you share it too?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV3KzICK6G8&feature=player_embedded

Here is the link to the five minute video: How To Praise Your Child.

or here is his full transcript:

There are so many things that are wrong with the world, that we by ourselves, cannot fix.  As much as we, as a society, would like to see peace brought to troubled areas corrupt government reformed, cancer cured.  There is a limited amount that any of us as individuals can do about large scale issues.  However, there is one thing that nearly all of us can do that will immediately and exponentially increase both goodness and happiness on earth.  If practiced widely, it can in just a few years’ time- morally transform the world.

Parents and all other adults, should reserve their highest praise of children when they do acts of kindness.  This is not the case at the present moment and time.  As a rule, children receive their highest compliments for one of four things.

  • Their intellectual and academic achievements
  • Their athletic abilities
  • Their artistic attainments
  • Their looks ( especially , in girls).

Children who receive their parents and other adults’ compliments in these areas are delighted; after all, everyone loves a compliment.

But what about the children who don’t excel in academics, or who isn’t a gifted athlete or dancer? Or the girl who isn’t particularly pretty.

What will their parents praise them for?  The most flattering remark that the parents will tell others will be “She/he is a really good kid”.  From which it can be inferred generally speaking that being a “good Kid” is not a big deal that – from the parents’ perspective, the child is probably not very good at anything really worth talking about.

Now, I want to make clear that I am not suggesting that parents stop complimenting their children for their accomplishments in other areas. All children want to know that their parents have respect for their accomplishments. And girls, even more than boys, also need to feel that they’re physically attractive.

But, and this is a big But- what I am suggesting is this:

The traits that we most often emphasize and praise – doing well in school, athletic and artistic achievements, and professional success are all important only if being a good person is placed at the top of the list.

Now, what do I mean when I speak about young people being good?  Let me share a few examples:

  • Speaking out against and confronting a school bully
  • Befriending a nice kid at school who isn’t popular
  • Finding a wallet or cell phone and making every effort to locate the owner instead of keeping it.
  • Offering ones seat on a bus to an older person
  • Treating your siblings decently
  • Not cheating on tests

Note:  I did not list in my examples going on a 10k walk for a good cause like cancer research.  That is, of course, a very worthwhile thing for a young person to do, but it isn’t the point I am trying to make. I am trying to impose one-on-one acts of kindness and goodness; having integrity.

Parents need to give their children praise for kindness and integrity, it will have a powerful impact.

Children will ultimately identify feeling good about themselves about being kind and a good person and use that as they grow up to act nobly.  Or in other words, their self-esteem, will come from goodness and kindness than anything else.

If this proposal were to catch on, we will raise a generation of people who most like themselves when they are doing good.
Think about this for a moment.
What a world that would be!
And the best news about this proposal is that you can start doing it immediately, and I don’t mean tomorrow. I mean now.

I’m Joseph Telushkin, for Prager University.

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