Yesterday I drove across a snowy mountain pass to get to Costco for supplies. It wasn’t overly hazardous, but I was still kind of tired and a little out of sorts by the time I got to shopping. And then…the nicest thing happened — twice. I was figuring out what type of paper towels I needed, when a young woman walked by and said, “Cool hair!” Wow. That was kind of great. With renewed energy, I grabbed my towels and headed over to peanut butter. All of a sudden, a young mom pushing a cartload of kids passed me in the aisle and said, “I love your hair.” Two compliments within 10 minutes! I floated through the rest of the store, and grinned my way out to the car, smiling at everyone. Pretty sure nothing could have messed up the rest of my day after that wonderful boost.
On the way home I was thinking about just how important those positive words can be. An unexpected compliment really can brighten your day. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be unexpected. Any sincere words of affirmation can feed your soul.
That got me thinking about my son and what he had asked me just the day before: “Mommy, do you think I have a good voice?” This is a child who I can never talk into joining a choir, but who is constantly singing as he goes about his play and schoolwork. I told him honestly that, yes, I did think his voice was nice, and that he had probably inherited it from his late father, who had loved to sing in choirs. He didn’t respond, but I could see his smile in the rearview mirror, as well as some new thoughts being turned over in his head.
When was the last time you complimented your child? I’m not of the camp that thinks we should lie or mindlessly compliment children in a way that cheapens the sentiment. I also try to stay away from things that are kind of subjective and peripheral — beauty, being smart, winning, etc. Instead, look for their qualities, areas of growth, or small accomplishments.
How about a kind word on a chore well done; on the fact that they are a good listener; that you appreciate the effort they put into their science project, even if it didn’t turn out just as planned; or even on something as simple as the fact that you noticed they’ve been remembering to chew with their mouth closed? Tiny, tiny things, yet so important.
Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in what our kids are doing wrong. That may be especially true as homeschoolers, since we feel like everything they do reflects on us. Or, maybe we’re just trying to make it through the day with our sanity. Whatever the reason, tiny compliments that feed their soul can easily be forgotten.
Here are a couple of quotes that jump out at me:
“The best compliment to a child … is the feeling you give him that he has been set free to make his own inquiries, to come to conclusions that are right for him, whether or not they coincide with your own.” ~Alistair Cooke
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” ~Mother Teresa
Take a second right now to think of something you appreciate about your child, and determine to pass on that little gem sometime today. Watch their eyes light up, and enjoy the feeling of warmth that spreads in your heart.
“And fathers, provoke not your children, but nourish them in the instruction and admonition of the Lord,” Ephesians 6:4 YLT.