I have learned that children who have experienced the following things in their lives have the best chance of developing into the persons they were meant to be.
1. They were not labeled. They were not called lazy, uncommunicative, slow, unfeeling…you know… the words that hurt…and tend to stick…and become part of one’s self-image. Instead they were told that they were the most wonderful person that ever came down the pike. While what they did was not always acceptable, that did not make them unlovable or objectionable as a person. They experienced having the deed separated from the doer.
2. They were constantly recognized and encouraged for the effort they were making and not just occasionally praised and noticed for being the best and the top of the heap. They were caught doing things right and encouraged to continue doing so. They were not only noticed when they were doing something wrong and told how incompetent and bad they were.
3. Acceptance was communicated to them by people who used “I” statements not “you” statements. The “you” statement places blame and makes a verbal attack: “You’re inconsiderate.” The “I” statement, on the other hand, tells how you feel and how another person’s behavior affects you. “I get upset when you come home late for dinner because I feel unappreciated.”
4. They were around people who understood that perfection is a utopian concept and that it is okay to make mistakes. People around them made mistakes and learned from them. Mistakes are not failures, they are opportunities to learn. They have developed the courage to be imperfect.
5. Adults around them understand that their children are concrete and abstract thinkers. Being told to be a good boy is not as helpful as saying, “When you are finished playing with your trucks, put them in the basket.”
6. They understood and accepted their own unique temperament and the temperaments of the people around them. Their unique temperament was encouraged, accepted and understood not stifled and nullified.
7. Love your children.