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Reflective Parenting

I often think or over think my responses to my children. Often I am most reflective when I am certain my reaction should have been different. I don't beat myself up over these "wrong" reactions- I'm human after all, but I do take the time to think them over, try to understand what would have been a more beneficial answer to my child and support his needs, and of course then share and discuss with my partner. I realize what a gift this is and a valuable practice- for myself and my reflective process but also for my future reactions to my children and their insecurities, their growth and their understanding of self and the world.

Tom showed me a picture that he drew. He didn't spend too much time drawing it and used one color. He finished and on it was written to mom (mom was crossed out and written instead was my name: Naomi. On top of that it wrote: from Tom, and next to that it says: You are awesome.

He said: Rate my picture from 1-10.

I answered: hmmm... hmmm... 7.5

He was obviously extremely disappointed and he asked why?

I said: hmm hmm, because you can always do better.

I then asked- what would you rate it? and he said a 9.

Oops I thought, he had thought this was a really good picture of his- he told me that he liked the body of the ninja that he drew and the weapons.

Now, later I thought: what a crap, cop out answer. and began thinking of all the things I should've said. First of all, why should I rate it at all? I should've asked what he rated it from the gecko! That way I would've known if he thought his own work was good in comparison to other drawings he had made. I could've left it at that and maybe if I had left at that he would know that it only really matters what he thinks about his work and his abilities. Assessing ones own capabilities is an important part of life. Not his future life but his life right now. I know he is aware there are better artists then himself because he voiced compliments about a few kids drawing abilities. Whats most important is what he thinks of himself. But I didn't- I told him a half truth. It wasn't WOW. It was a bit better then his average drawings. Then I gave a crap answer of why I gave him a 7.5- you could always do better? Really? C'mon? Then why didn't I give him a 9? I could've actually given him some constructive criticism:

  • I like colors- there was only black;

  • I don't understand the talk bubble- it only gave part of the story and only after explaining did I understand. The ninja said " lame" but I have no idea what was lame (later I found out that the ninja thought the attack on him was lame and he easily beat his opponent by chopping up his weapon);

  • Its not detailed- I don't really see much in the work- its mostly a white paper.

  • He didn't take much time to do it so it didn't take much effort.

There are times when he has drawn different dimensions on the same page by going through tunnels or caves- those were awesome. those I loved and would've rated a 10.

Now I know!

Feedback is something that kids have grown accustomed to receiving (test scores, MVP awards, any award for good behavior and more). Their abilities to assess their own capabilities are dwindling and they are more heavily relying on outside compensation, motivation and conflict resolution. It is important to give them that power back. Kids have the ability to assess themselves based on comparing themselves to their own selves in the past and and others (its a natural part of development- compartmentalization). We just need to give them that chance. My advice to myself- wait one more second, and then one more before giving MY answer.

Tom, 8yrs old

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