Little children and young adults need affirmation. I would go so far as to say that adults need affirmation too. Now before you come out swinging at me saying, “not every kid gets a trophy”. I agree! That is not what I am saying. Let’s just say that your child finishes fourth grade and they persevered through. They may not have made straight A’s, but they really gave fourth grade all they had that year. If you respond as a parent by saying, “I’m glad you finished fourth grade, but you can do better next year.” You are not telling your child what they need to hear. They just need to hear from you that you are proud and that they did great! The first response deflates a child’s confidence. The second response encourages them and they want to do better because they have received positive reinforcement from their parents. This may sound crazy, but I can remember recently decorating my mailbox for Christmas. I know this is not a big deal, but for me it is! I’m not really gifted in crafts and decorating even though I enjoy it. I am the person who could post a hilarious Pinterest fail. When I finished decorating my mailbox, I took a picture and sent it to my mom. I wanted my mom to say, “I love it! It looks great”! If you know my mom, that is exactly what she said. I was ready to tackle the front door next! I felt like Martha Stewart!
I did learn early in my parenting career that children need to learn from their mistakes. This may mean that we don’t say anything. We just let reality be the teacher. This is where I’ll talk about trophies. I believe we live in a culture now where parents think every little task their child does needs to be rewarded. This can be dangerous. We are setting our children up to think that the real world will reward them. They will be let down if they have this mindset. Our culture in the United States is that no one should have to suffer. However, suffering gives us a choice. We can choose to be a victim from our suffering or a victor. Adversity can teach us to dig deep. When you overcome adversity, you can look back and realize what you had to overcome to get where you are. It is a wonderful feeling to realize your inner strength, faith, God’s wisdom and guidance helped you rise above your circumstances. That child who didn’t get the trophy is gonna look at that other team who deserved the recognition and figure out how they can beat them next time. Teach your children to look fear in the eye. Embrace adversity because you will grow in your faith, you will come to know Jesus in a intimate way and your character will strengthen. We can also realize that adversity can be a blessing. In the Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom talks about their bedding and the barrack they were staying in becoming infested with fleas. At first, they hated the annoying little creatures that were causing them to have red bumps on their skin and causing them to itch the festers. However, they learned to praise God for the fleas because it caused their German captors not to come into their barracks. Our attitudes can determine whether we go through a trial well or with bitterness.
Affirm your children. Let them make mistakes. Guide them and most importantly, love them.