I’ve been correcting my daughter’s behaviour — a lot. Don’t leave your towel on the floor. Don’t suck on your hair. Don’t eat with your fingers. Don’t, don’t, don’t.
“Where’s my sweet helpful girl gone?” I wondered.
I’ve been doing a lot more correcting than encouraging lately; mostly speaking to my daughter when I have something negative to say. I don’t think I realised I was doing it actually. My husband pulled me up the other night after the kids were in bed.
He said, “Kelly, in the morning, I want you to hold that girl, and tell her how much you love her.”
Then he put his hand over his heart in a rare emotional gesture. “I just know she needs that right now. Don’t worry about the other behavioural stuff at the moment. Just love her.”
I felt rebuked. But glad at the same time. And I knew he was right.
The next day, I didn’t “don’t”. I just loved. I made a point of holding my daughter and telling her how glad I was that she was my child. I looked for ways to encourage her and invest in her day. I just loved her.
This daughter of mine: she is like me in a lot of ways. She can often conform into who others think her to be. As she matures, I’ll teach her the dangers of that. And while I don’t want her to absolutely rely on encouragement to exist, I do want to provide an environment where she can feel good about who she is. And that place is here, with me.
You know what? I have my sweet helpful girl back. The change in my daughter’s temperament was so dramatic, almost instant, that I knew her behaviour was actually more about my behaviour, than hers.
It’s sometimes like that with parenting. Behavioural issues can go both ways…and bounce from parent to child. Here’s to reality checks, and people who can pull you up in a proactive way. And here’s to providing an encouraging environment where kids can feel good about who they are.
I’m pleased to enter this post as part of the Digital Parents Blog Carnival.