“Among the top five in the class, once again!” versus “Teachers, coaches and everybody, we did it again together! All efforts paved way for the great scores!!”
Which one sounds better?
I am sure we would all vote for the latter. Indeed, at times we cannot resist being a tad narcissistic about our child’s achievements but please don’t overdo it.
This ostentatious behavior is not solely the creation of millennial parenting. It’s been a way of life of sorts, back in our childhood too. In a room full of known and unknown faces, either a parent or a relative would unabashedly brag and say, “so recite the poem you just won the prize for” and the child would have to reluctantly give in to the eagerly waiting audience. How common was this a few years back, right?
This whole ‘showing off how great my child is’ thing has not bitten the dust yet, the stage has just shifted to the social media. While it’s human and quite real to get excited about our kids’ little achievements, the next time before you do, stop and think if you being boastful about your child? Because your child is not your trophy!
It’s understandable and natural for us as parents to be elated and full of pride about our children.
My chest balloons up when I see my 4-year-old ‘arabesquing’ at her ballet class but when I go on and on about it or Instagram it as #mylittleballerina, is when I cross my line from pride over to boastful and I just showed off my ‘trophy.’
It’s a constant struggle, I agree to stop yourself from being boastful. I am guilty as charged for this but promise to try and refrain the next time. My approach here should have been, “you’re doing a great job, but there’s so much more to learn. Keep it up!” All of my tribe would agree, right?
The problem with showing off is that every child looks up to us (parents, grandparents or anybody else that they care about) for validation of their actions. It is important for them and they judge their behavior vis-a-vis our reactions.
So imagine the complacency that would creep into a child, when we as parents constantly engage in boastful conversations about what they did at school or soccer. Rather than offering self-validation in the form of “you did a top-class job” how about saying “it’s because you worked so hard.”
Though both mean almost the same thing, the latter phrase makes the whole ‘hard-work’ sound more enticing. Similar would be the scenario when our little guy/girl gets awesome grades.
Get a grip of yourself and say ‘hard work made it possible’ rather than ‘awesome job girl.’ This takes out the possible chances of self-absorption and places all emphasis on the vitality of hard work for achieving what they have achieved. Makes sense, right!
When you see your child is not even taking baby steps towards her project due early next week, your natural reaction…swooping and lifting your child out of her stupor. Again, leave her right there!
Yes, you heard me right! Allow her to get a slouchy grade. Would your pride in her go down? I’m sure not but she would surely learn to plan way ahead from next time.
Let us not try to bask in the glory of an assignment turned in on-time (with our generous help, of course). Instead, let her learn to tie in the pieces together herself and on time. This would also be the right time to reiterate, that generations before us have always harped on the importance of learning from our utter failures.
Again, our child is not our trophy to be boastful about. Instead, we would want them to be self-sufficient and have the sense of self-efficacy around them.
Diverging from the issue at hand here, a different perspective of encouraging our children is gaining popularity these days. Recently, the whole idea of giving children a few dollars for getting good grades is doing the rounds. Though, I as a parent would try and avoid money as a motivating factor for my child to do something good, but a Harvard study proclaims that this works. And when Harvard says it works, it must be substantial. It’s just that I have not been so familiar with the idea of getting money for doing household chores or for getting good grades. If the study convinces you, might as well give this a shot.
I am writing this because the battle against ‘trophyfying’ our child touches many of us and it’s an uphill task of dodging it every day. The last thing I would want to do is be a narcissist and raise a narcissistic child.
Children learn every day, from every little detail around them, they would pick up from our reaction in a flash. We would want these ‘sponges’ to soak in the importance of hard work and learn to be grateful. How would that happen? From our actions and reactions, of course. Remember we are all in it together, trying to raise humble, generous, kind and accomplished children.
So, how did you dodge ‘trophyfying’ your child today? I took a baby step, I masked my excitement when my child could do a decent ‘dime plié’ posture and told her that’s it because she has been working so hard for this, and that she did it today and needs to keep up the momentum. But, I’ll not lie, I was immensely proud of her inside, which is fair!