Our world has changed. We seek instant gratification, feedback, and approval from others, even from people we don't know. We do this at home, at work, online and in school. People post pictures waiting for a comment; provide a Facebook status every 5 minutes. Why? Is this to feel loved, to feel part of community?
Kids are overly praised, and when they go out into the real world, they are confused as to why people don't love them the way their virtual world or inner circle loves them.
In school, we reward almost everything. If students read a certain amount of books, they get a ticket to Great America. If they behave well, they get a special lunch. I get it. I've lived it.
I believe we need to teach our kids to be proud of themselves again.
The next time your child brings home a great test score or does well in a soccer game, instead of saying "I'm proud of you," ask your child, "Are you proud of yourself, and why?"
I think the room may be silent for a few minutes. The value of self-worth and success are important areas that we need to stress and teach our children because praise is around them all of the time. If they don't like something online, they can delete it. If they don't like a picture they posted or didn't receive the acknowledgement they expected, they can change it for another one, until they do receive the praise they expected.
Yes, they need approval from their parents, from their teachers, but they need to learn to be proud of themselves. Our kids need self-esteem that comes from within, along with the love and praise they receive outside.
Our kids have to learn that every accomplishment made requires their own approval. We need to teach our kids to love learning for the love of learning, for the power of knowledge, and for the simple sake of growing into a good person and doing good in the world. Not everything comes with a reward; the reward can be found within.
Kids need to learn to be proud of themselves for what they do, don't do and the decisions they make when we are not with them.
This is one of the best gifts you can give to your child, the gift of self-approval and independence. You will then teach them to look inside themselves for the good they are doing, and they will not always have to search for it in others.
This is a gift that has been quietly pushed aside too long, and I think we need to bring it back.