‘Super! You are so amazing!’
You can hear the parents feeling joy when they are expressing their feedbacks towards their child. It is also important to remember the effects of your feedback to your children. What happens to your child when they face a new challenge? Do they shrink in their size or they grit their teeth and go outside their comfort zone? Expressing feedbacks like ‘You are so clever! What a spacecraft!’ will have one kind of negative effect and your child’s mindset will recede and they will shirk the next given challenge. Have you ever wondered why your child is clinging onto you and what can be done for your child to explore their new world with forward strides rather than going clinging on to you with nervous hesitation?
Feedbacks such as ‘Super! You are so wonderful’ or ‘Bravo! You are so amazing’ will endorse to your child that they are born like this and there is no need to try to overcome such fears. Over time these kinds of superficial feedbacks will start to hinder and harm your child’s progress and growth. So, what is the way forward? How we can decrease the level of fear and encourage your child to take these forward steps? One simple way is to make the feedback more personal by using ‘I’ at the beginning of the sentence, ‘I’m proud of you. This is a good way of starting to practice your feedback with your child because you are sharing your positive emotions with your child. Though it does not really come to the core of the matter. What is the core of the matter? Which kinds of behaviours or characteristics would you like your child to display in the near future?
For example, imagine your child is scared of the monsters who live behind the wardrobe and then she designed some creative solutions to get over the fear. What kind of behaviours would you like your child to demonstrate in the future? You are extremely brave girl for dealing with monsters! These kinds of feedbacks give your child development and motivational feedback to start to grow and encourage your child to become more courageous in the short term.
Also, it is important to give your child feedback in a timely way, so for example imagine your child hears a wordplay and create new ones based on what he heard. You could feed back by saying: ‘You are very creative and I see that you learn really fast’. How would your child feel when they receive such feedbacks in a timely fashion?
In order to give such timely intervention, it is important that you fully are in the moment and being genuinely interested in your child’s movements. This is because no moment will repeat itself, you will never again be in the same moment. Every time your child does a good action; it is new and has a different taste and it is a different experience and meaning to them. Hence it is key to watch and notice and make comments to match your child’s actions and behaviours. The secret is to be heartfelt and actually feel what you are saying about your child’s growth. I believe that genuine praise is overlooked in the rush of everyday life and then we initiate into the kind of superficial auto-pilot feedbacks , Wow and You are amazing!’ which means you are being counterproductive to your child and wasting your energies further!
Most teachers and leaders are good at giving feedbacks on your weaknesses so parents either copy this dysfunctional approach or they go over the top and start to overdo it! Neither will bring you the results that you are seeking in your growing child. The dysfunctional approach will shatter your child’s confidence and they will feel not good enough. Similarly, the parents who ‘go over the top ‘and shower their child with the superficial comments may result in children experiencing emotional difficulties. The key is to provide accurate feedback rather than overloading the feedback. The key is to focus on ‘quality rather than quantity’ as the focus needs to be on providing heartfelt and genuine accurate feedback. Just like a photographer is seeking for the right moment to take a photograph, a parent needs to be seeking these hot moments! When is your child’s body language changing so you see the child’s eyes dilating, the abdomen of the child’s is expanding, and you feel your child’s interest levels are rising? When is your child’s tone is higher than normal? What is your child doing? What is creating this excitement? This is the right moment to take a photograph? Maybe it is time to practice giving timely, heartfelt and genuine feedback which makes your child grow organically.
Let’s look at this photograph you took of your child during this hot moment. Try to summarise it in your own words like you were describing the moment to your best friend? Try to specify three of your child’s strongest characteristics within this photograph? What is present of your child within this photograph? What is the magic within your child? When your child is at its best they are using their curiosity! All children are born with boundless curiosity and curiosity is part of the architecture needed for building a pleasurable, engaging and meaningful life. Understanding this motivation allows us to better the nature of our children. Curiosity serves as a gateway to what your child value and cherish most.
When your children activate their curiosity, they create possibilities whereas than the need for certainty narrows them. Curiosity creates energy within your child whereas the need for certainty depletes their energies. Curiosity results in exploration in your child and the need for certainty creates closure. Curiosity creates relationships; the need for certainty creates defensiveness. Finally, curiosity is about discovery what your child needs rather than the need for certainty is about right. Hence curiosity is the engine of your child’s growth. Maybe you have forgotten your own sense of curiosity though your child needs theirs to grow!
Dr Seligman and Dr Peterson devised a scientific classification of the characteristics that human beings can possess. This system was the end result of reading the work of ancient philosophies, religious texts and contemporary literature. Their global research shows that curiosity is one of the five most characteristics connected with high life satisfaction, happiness and with a life of pleasure and engagement. Being curious is strongly connected with life longevity, meaning, good relationships and intelligence.
Let’s go back to your child’s photo and now re-evaluate your child’s 3 strongest characteristics? I would predict they are using curiosity, creativity, hope, a sense of perspective, love of learning as well as being enthusiastic. These all correlate highly with curiosity. Are these the kind of characteristics you would love to see in your child in the short to long term? Once you express real interest with your child and share these characteristics with your child regularly you will start to notice new characteristics too. Now you know how to focus your feedback when you child is building their next Lego masterpiece or their new spaceship!
Finally, the process of giving and receiving feedback is a dialogue that encourages a spirit of self-exploration and personal inquiry into what’s important to your child. Start today and be curious and discover your most precious gift.