Parents, please don't say, "See...."

Don’t say, “SEE!”

As most of my readers know I am a psychologist with 30 years of working with parents and children in schools. I’m working on a book about some of what I’ve learned, insights and strategies that seem to make the most important job in the world a little easier and more effective. I continue to work with parents each week who have suggested that I get a move on with this book or start posting chapters of it on my blog. I’m listening and so will start posting “bits” if not chapters.
The bit that is getting the most nods of insight recently has been the caution to not say, “See how easy that was.” This parental comment usually follows the child finally doing something that they resisted or avoided or something that was hard for them. It’s natural to want to remind them that all the fuss was not necessary and that the task was really “easy.” But I suggest a different response.  “See how easy that was.” minimizes for some children the effort and courage it took to accomplish the task. It also robs the parent of the opportunity to praise and reinforce one of the most important character strengths – to do something even when it is hard. So instead of “See how easy…” I suggest something like the following. “I’m proud of you for doing something that I know was hard (or uncomfortable or scary) for you. You must feel proud of yourself too.”  Rather than feeling like a big wimp for the initial resistance, it helps the child build confidence in his or her own resources to face future challenges.