“All children wear the sign: “I want to be important NOW.” Many of our juvenile delinquency problems arise because nobody reads the sign.” ~ Dan G. Pursuit, former Director of DCI, USC.
Dan brings up a very good point here… a point that should concern each of us: “How can we expect children to behave properly, if we neglect–or miss–reading the signs that they are holding up for us?” Just as a farmer must tend to his crops if he expects to have a good harvest, we cannot possibly expect children to grow and develop well if we neglect to care for them and tend to their individual needs.
When we commit to reading the signs children wear, their actions begin to reflect our genuine attention and concern. It becomes quite apparent that the child acting up is starving for attention–waiting for someone to notice him or her and let them know that they are of value and worth. Perhaps that child has so rarely received positive attention, that he or she is not sure how to ask for it.
Our encouragement and praise can have a much broader effect than simply offering momentary happiness for a child–it can add a sense of confidence and self-respect to the child’s psyche that can never be taken away. But that all depends upon how we give it and how it is received, and upon whether or not we encourage them again, or turn around and discourage or criticize them later. I once heard a very beautiful rule for raising a child: That for every time you have to discipline, criticize, or scold a child for something that they have done wrong, or failed at… you should offer them four positive instances of encouragement, praise, and support for something that they have done right, or excelled at. The point of this is to ensure that we are not making them feel worthless, and actually increasing the likelihood of further failures in the future. When we praise children more than we criticize them, they are much more likely to improve their behavior.
A child is an impressionable thing–a constant work in progress that can become a beautiful display of art if we allow them and help them to be so. But we have to make sure that we are pouring forth enough healthy and positive energy for them so that they can take that energy, and combined with their own enthusiasm, put it to good use.
Give children the positive attention that they deserve.
Questions to consider:
How good are you at reading the signs on children? How might you improve your ability to do so?
What attention is most beneficial to a child? How often do you offer this attention?
What kinds of attention are harmful or hurtful to a child?
For further thought:
“What’s done to children, they will do to society.” ~ Karl Menninger