Normally, I’m pretty skeptical about any new-age pop-psychology mumbo jumbo slapped onto a magnet and strategically placed front and center on a refrigerator. However I recently came across one such attention-grabbing public notice, and I have to admit, I was intrigued.
It read: 101 Ways to Praise a Child
It was produced by some company that goes by the name of Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A. At first I was discouraged, as it appeared that it was something solely created for nannies, which we don’t have because a) we don’t have the money, and b) there is only one Mary Poppins, and I don’t think she’s available. But although it was targeted at nannies, I couldn’t help wonder if it might work for parents too, as they sometimes interact with their own children as well.
I decided to give it a shot.
I've carried it around in my pocket for a week now, and I’ve really noticed a difference in my children’s confidence. Used to be that when they ran up to tell me about some accomplishment, I just didn’t know how to react. But now I do!
I tried it out on my oldest first.
Oldest Daughter: Dad, I made 8 loaves of bread today.
Me: (Scanning the card for the right thing to say) You’re a pleasure to know! (Nailed it.)
Middle Child: Dad, I drew this picture for you.
Me: What a great listener!
Youngest Son: Dad, I had an accident when I couldn’t climb up on the toilet fast enough.
Me: You’ve earned my respect!
Me: Thanks for caring!
Oldest Son: Dad, in Scouts we talked about coin collections.
Me: The time you put in really shows!
Middle Daughter: (And I wish I were making this one up…) Dad, listen to the song I memorized from West Side Story! “My daddy beats my mommy; my mommy clobbers me; my grandpa is a commie; my grandma pushes tea; my sister wears a mustache; my brother wears a dress! Goodness! Gracious! That’s why I’m a mess!”
Me: Class act!
So, turns out, as you can plainly see, that sometimes this stuff really works! I can really tell a difference in my children’s attitudes. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if this parenting thing doesn’t work out, I could totally be a nanny. Kenny Poppins.