Parenting Matters: The opposite of ‘no’

I recently wrote about the importance of “no” in your child’s life. It seems appropriate to talk about the other side of this issue.

How frequently do you tell your child what a good job he has done? It isn’t enough to just have your child do what you ask, you also need to let him know when he has done the job in a really good way.

In no way does this mean to overdo praise. Too much praise and it makes it seem less meaningful. But when he does a job really well, he needs to hear that.

We forget how important we are to our children. They really do hear what we say or don’t say to them. Just look at your child’s expression when you really tell him what a good job he did on something. Maybe you praise him because he remembered to feed the dog or that he cleaned up his dishes without being asked. It can be a good idea to include your praise with a hug or maybe with telling someone else about his special behavior and letting him overhear it.

I was always struck by one mom who wrote on her evaluation of First Teacher that she didn’t realize how important she was. Yes, you are very, very important. Far more than you realize.

One of the things I tell parents is that the best kept secret of parenting is that it goes on forever. That is really true. I also was amazed when I listened to some of the reports from war victims who were mostly in their 20s that their last words were they asked for their mothers. I also heard of a young woman who searched for her father for 20 years because her parents divorced when she was 5. She knew he loved her (even though she was only 5) and finding him was really important to her. These two stories made me think even more about the importance of parents and what we do with our young children that stays with them throughout their lives.

There is a critical message to all parents when we realize that we are one of the most important people in the world to our children. That is very powerful. That means we must exercise our power carefully. He will hear the “nos” but he also will hear the praise. He also will remember the hugs, the kisses, the books you read together, and the way you taught him to be a caring and thoughtful person. The bond you have with your little one will be with him the rest of his life.

Work hard to be the best parent you can be.



Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation, Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.


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