Stop undermining your child's success. Here's how.

Are you undermining your child’s success?

You may be thinking, “No! Of course not!” But yes, you may be undermining your child’s success. How do I know? We ALL do it!

Need an example? I have plenty. I first noticed it during math homework, but, as much as I wish it wasn’t true, math wasn’t the only problem. It was happening in all kinds of areas. Bath time and dinner time and bedtime.

What is “IT”? IT was the subtle ways that I was completely undermining my son’s successes and slowly but surely sucking away a little bit of his soul.

I can’t tell you how much I hate knowing this now, but when you know better, you do better, right?

Let’s go back to the dining room table and the math homework. My son hated math. I know I am not alone there. It wasn’t even that he was necessarily bad at it. It may have just been boring or maybe it was hard to concentrate or any other reason, but the point is, when I said it was time to do math, he turned into a gremlin that someone fed after midnight. There was stalling. There was complaining. There were definitely tears—and sometimes they were my son’s. There was definitely no math success. There would be days that only one or two problems would get finished before he would crumple the paper or throw his pencil.

And then one day, the sky opened up and the angels sang down upon us and all were well pleased. He sat down, picked up his pencil, and completed his math start to finish. No tears. No whining. No torn paper. It was miraculous. Thrilling. All the good things.

“See, I knew you could do it!” I said with excitement. “Now, why can’t you do that all the time?”

I said this with a face beaming with pride, but my son’s face did not match mine. His face fell. He looked dejected and defeated.

And I realized I had messed up big time.

Instead of making him feel excited about his math success that day, I had made him feel terrible about his lack of success all the other days. I reminded him about his failure when I should have been celebrating with the biggest party ever.

What’s worse, my comments subtly communicated that success of any kind would be punished by expecting success all the time. I sucked the wind out of his success with those comments, instead of utilizing a positive parenting must do technique of focusing on the wins of the right here, right now.

Why would he want to try math ever again if he knows that if he struggles, there will be pain and tears –which feel like punishment to him—and if he succeeds, there will be reminders about how he needs to try harder to do it just like this in the future and quit being a failure…which also feels like punishment?

Simply, it is soul sucking to learn that you will be punished for both success and failure. Which means you will be punished no matter what you do, so just give up before you start, right?

Even worse—yes, that’s possible—these kinds of subtle things happen all the time in parenting and we don’t even mean to do it.

Every time your child does something great and you respond with “FINALLY!” you are undermining your child’s success. Every time you say, “See, I knew you could do it!” no matter how excited you sound, you are undermining your child’s success. Every time you see improvement and you use that moment to ask for even more improvement, you are undermining your child’s success.  Every time you pair a success with a reminder about past failures, you are undermining your child’s success.

And when we undermine success, we make it less likely that we will see that attempt at success again. That’s not the goal, AT ALL!

Positive parenting must do: do this one easy thing to transform your parenting

So, what should we do instead? If your child is successful, and we should define success as any movement towards the right behavior, celebrate the success. Full stop. If it’s better than it used to be, it it’s closer to the behavior you want to see, celebrate it! Don’t expect more. Don’t get ahead of yourself to perfection that you forget to recognize progress. Progress is where it’s at! That’s the party. And while you are at it, don’t chastise your child for not doing something enough and don’t bring up the past.

If something awesome is happening, live in that moment. Soak it up. Celebrate it! Resist the urge to sabotage the success by expecting more or reminding the child that they obviously can do better.

Just celebrate!

How not to undermine your child's success!

Ten things I want parents to know that will help to stop undermining your child’s success:

  1. You are your child’s environment.
  2. Your child’s behavior is communication.
  3. Your child’s behavior has a reason (function).
  4. Your behavior is the predictor of your child’s behavior.
  5. Consistency really does matter
  6. So does a healthy positive relationship
  7. But, when you can’t be consistent, it’s okay to give in (the right way)
  8. You have to watch your language
  9. You are accidentally punishing some things and reinforcing others

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