This was originally posted by the Marion & Polk Early Learning Hub here.

How often do you say “I love you” to your young children? I’m guessing pretty frequently. We caregivers know the value of assuring our children that they are loved. But, how often do you praise your children? And an even better question…how often do you say “no” or admonish your children for poor behavior?

Especially with young children it seems like we are constantly having to say “no” or redirect our children. They are learning their boundaries at this age and quite often are trying to test them as well. At times it feels like all we are doing is saying “no” to this or “don’t do that”. It’s tiring and frustrating for us and can be difficult and even a little demoralizing for them. It’s during these moments where I feel like all I’ve done is discipline them that I try to focus on something positive and pick out something they do to praise.

When I can tell my son feels a little down after continuing to get in trouble, I try to reaffirm him by saying “you are an awesome kid” or “thank you for telling me the truth”. Kids love hearing affirmation and especially love when they do something that pleases their parents. I know I see the biggest smiles from my kids when they see me smiling and applauding them for something they’ve done well. I try to give random praise as much as I can as well. Saying things like: “you are strong”, “you are awesome”, “you are beautiful/handsome” remind them that we appreciate and value them. I have also tried to focus more on praising effort over results. The more I praise their effort and willingness to keep trying even if they fail, the more I notice they develop perseverance and a desire to do things on their own.

So if it feels like all you’ve been doing lately is admonishing and disciplining your kids I encourage you to look for something to praise and let them know about it. You might be surprised to discover how much it also helps to uplift you.

This is fatherhood…