Welcome to mid-summer! I am watching and loving the spectacular of the summer Olympics—the beautiful swimmers and gymnasts, beach volleyball under the stars, rowing and riding, and some sports I’ve never even heard of (white water slalom kayaking?).
It makes me think of something I often tell parents of the children I see for testing: It is important for you to notice the little things.
Most of us are not (and were not) Olympic performers. I think most of our kids won’t be, either. No gold medals in our future. In my opinion, that makes it even more essential to notice the “little things” our children do well every day.
There’s a saying, “how you do something is how you do everything”. One way to think about this is that when you notice and praise something your child does well, it makes him want to do more things well.
For parents, it’s good to think “outside the box”—to find those gold medal performances every day.
During the school year, you can ask each day, “what did you do well today?” or “what were you most proud of today?” (more about that once school starts)
At home, how about noticing a child who:
- Puts her dishes in the dishwasher
- Brushes his teeth thoroughly before bed
- Hangs up her towel without being asked
- Can play creatively by herself
- Offers to help you with something
There are a thousand little things, once you start looking. Each list will be as different as each child. For some, it will be putting shoes on the right feet (my 4 year old granddaughter’s current challenge). For others, it will be helping a sibling put on her shoes. Doesn’t matter. Calling it “gold” is what matters.
Put little gold stars on a calendar, or draw stars on your child’s white board. It may take a few days, even a week, but once you start noticing, your child will start doing. He or she may even begin pointing out the things that are gold-star worthy. A mini-Olympics of good things to celebrate, right in your own house!
You might even tell your kids something you are proud of, like keeping your temper in traffic or letting someone in line ahead of you. Gold medals are given for “the best” at one point in time. You and your children deserve them, too, when you try your best. I know I need to remind myself that I’m doing a good job, that I did something right, that I tried to be mindful as I went about my day.
Enjoy the amazing skills shown on TV, but don’t forget to be impressed by the things your children—and you—produce on a daily basis. In my book, No Parent Left Behind: Navigating the Special Education Universe, I write about the things effective parents of special needs children do to support and nurture their growth. There are probably some ideas you could use, too. Enjoy the rest of summer!