The Gift of Giving

As a part time reading and resource instructor for elementary and middle schools, I have to admit that I’ve often used bribery as a means of getting a child to try harder or to finish an assignment. It even works with high school kids to inspire them to get to the finish line albeit for that group the prize has to be worth the effort. Older kids are more selective and can be very cynical. They weigh their options before jumping in and aren’t easily seduced to produce by a pretzel stick, gold star or a pass to sit with a friend at lunch! I can safely say that many teachers use this type of positive reinforcement: work and you’ll be rewarded with something to eat or with enough checks/points/emojis accrued you can go to the toy chest and pull out something shiny and plastic for your delectation. Of course, this strategy often works but I got to thinking that in a perfect world, the greatest gift we can give our children is not just to give them ‘things’ for striving to do something requested and/or expected, but to share with them how you feel about their doing something well. To share how you feel doesn’t cost money and it certainly isn’t a bribe. It comes from the heart. As we are told, the best things in life are free. They are freely given without strings or candy attached, and without a quid pro quo.

I believe that by noticing and showing appreciation for your child’s activities when you see them striving to accomplish a goal, you can show your children that there are more important gifts than items bought in stores. Candy is dandy but it doesn’t always win the battle of homework. When you acknowledge your child with praise and affection and show them you are proud of them, you have established a heart-felt connection and you are actually giving your child the gift of self-esteem, pride and importantly, they will grow up seeing themselves as positive givers. Not a bad trade- off for candy and ‘stuff.’ In a book entitled, Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids by Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson tools are offered to “cultivate genuine mutual respect between parents and children and specific well-documented exercise and practical strategies that address family challenges.” You can also check out my workbook entitled Conscious Parenting. You can find it on Amazon or a link on my website.

Tags: Positive Reinforcement, Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids, Sura Hart, Victoria Kindle Hodson, Conscious Parenting