Parenting Styles

3 Times When “Pretty Good” is Good Enough

As a parent, it’s great to set high standards for your children and encourage them to work hard and meet them. But everyone needs some encouragement along the way. If we withhold all praise until our kids do things perfectly, they may just give up before they make it there! Here are some signs that your child might be due a good pat on the back, even if there’s still room for improvement.

1. Obvious effort. If your child studied hard and still only made a C on the test, don’t discount that show of effort. Praise their hard work and make sure they know you’re proud of how much study time they spent. Then take a look at their approach to studying for the test and see if there’s a way you can help them turn that hard work into an even better grade next time.

2. Measurable improvement. Some tasks are a long-term learning curve, like cleaning up a room. If your child is just learning to make the bed and this week’s covers are a little straighter and smoother than last week’s, acknowledge it! Trust us, with a little cheering and continued coaching, they’ll get it right one day soon.

3. Greater self-control. Sometimes it’s not what our kids do that makes us proud, it’s what they don’t do. If your child has been struggling to practice self-control in an area like sibling conflict, take every opportunity to affirm what they are getting right even if conflict erupts anyway. Sometimes you, as a parent, heard and saw enough to know that they were really trying to avoid a fight, but the other sibling kept pushing. Settle the dispute, but acknowledge that you noticed they tried harder than before and you appreciate that.

Along these same lines, it’s important for us as parents to have realistic expectations of our children. We often expect performance from them that we couldn’t have produced at the same age just because of the hyper-competitive culture we live in. It’s important for us to understand that not every child is blessed with the talent to be the valedictorian or the star quarterback. Our job as parents is to encourage them to do their best—and then be proud of that, whatever it looks like.


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