Many of the important parenting lessons I have learned throughout the years have been because I screwed up in some way. Which is ultimately how I began having my kids overhear me say good things about them.
It started when my younger son was having a bad day which means, I, in turn, was having a bad day. I can’t even remember what it was that caused the meltdown. But isn’t that always the way? It starts off as something small and picks up momentum like a snowball rolling down a hill until there is no stopping it.
On a scale of one to ten, this particular meltdown was about a 15.
At my wit’s end, I sent him to his room and popped onto Facebook to message a friend about it. Just the usual kind of venting stuff that moms do.
OMG. I’m having a bad day. Parenting is hard. Another meltdown….. yadda yadda yadda.
Then I walked away from my laptop to make dinner, only I had left it open on the kitchen table and my son read it.
To say he was devastated is an understatement.
It took hours for him to even speak to me but when we finally did, he said something that devastated me even more.
“Why don’t I ever hear you saying nice things about me to your friends?”
His words cut me to the bone.
The ironic thing is I do tell my friends about how awesome both my kids are, but from his point of view, I hadn’t because it wasn’t being done in his presence, or at least not enough to make an impact. And so, once again, life had kicked me in the ass with a lesson and it was now up to me to do something about it. If I wasn’t his biggest cheerleader, who would be?
From that day forward I made a point of saying nice things about my kids when they were in earshot.
Have you ever given your kid a compliment and they respond, “You have to say that, you’re my mother.” That’s the difference between saying something nice about your child rather than to them. The compliment feels more genuine when you are telling someone else and they overhear it.
Want to make sure your kids overhear you say something nice? Try…
Talking on the phone with a friend while they are in the next room.
Adding it into the conversation with your partner at the dinner table. (Did you know Thomas helped his friend do schoolwork today?)
Send an email to a friend with something nice written about your child and leave it open on your computer for them to read.
Let them overhear you telling a sibling about something great they did.
Don’t brush off compliments. If someone tells you your daughter is very polite, instead of only responding thank you, add to it. (Yes, she’s an incredibly respectful kid. We’re very proud of her.)
The truth is, those little ears are always listening but this is one time when eavesdropping really pays off for everyone.