An Easy Way To Bring Out The Best In Kids…….And Adults

If you’re a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, or in any position that has you caring for young people, I’ll bet you are constantly looking for ideas to bring out the best in your kids. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be reminded of an easy, almost surefire way to make this happen. You simply acknowledge the “good stuff” that you see them doing!

I was reminded of this terrific idea in two ways:

First, I’m currently rereading an award-winning book that was written by a longtime friend and mentor, Paul Axtell. It’s titled, Ten Powerful Things to Say to Your Kids.

Chapter One is titled, I like you. In it, Paul talks about the idea that our words have the power to create. He poses the question, “What are you creating for your child with your words?”, and goes on to suggest that if you see something positive in your child’s behavior and acknowledge it, that quality will continue to grow and develop.

This idea is based on what’s known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps you’re already familiar with it because of the play Pygmalion, or the movies My Fair Lady and Pretty Woman?

A point Paul makes that I really like is that acknowledging someone tends to pack a double-whammy because, “Acknowledgement not only affirms the person being acknowledged, it encourages the ongoing development of the characteristic being acknowledged.”

My second reminder of this idea comes from our youngest son, Patrick, who will soon be a sophomore in college. To fulfill a community service requirement last fall, he signed up to mentor a young, developmentally disabled person in the community.

As you might suspect, my wife and I were pleased to hear about his commitment, but yet not completely surprised. You see, Patrick did similar leadership and mentoring work during his last two years in high school. It’s a strength he discovered and initiated on his own.

However, I do believe our acknowledgement and support of his high school efforts helped to influence his choice to continue similar work in college. At least I like to think so!

As the title of this post suggests, acknowledgement is a great way to bring out the best in young people, but it’s just as powerful with adults. So whether you’re at home, at work or out in the community, why not look for and acknowledge the “good stuff” in people?

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain as he is. If you treat an individual as he could be, he will become the person he could be.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (German writer)

Question: What other ways do you like most for bringing out the best in others?