Aha! Parenting Blog

Practical solutions for real parenting problems

Talk in front of their backs

“If you want your children to improve, let them overhear the nice things you say about them to others.” --
Dr. Haim Ginott

Kids have antenna.  Whenever you lower your voice to speak to someone else, their ears perk up.  And if they hear their name, their attention is riveted.

Kids know we say things to them for effect, whether positive or negative.  Their defenses go up and they may not trust our intentions.  Are they being manipulated?

But when they hear us saying nice things about them to someone else, there's no filter.  They assume it's true.  And they live up (or down) to what they hear.

Any specific traits you want to encourage?  Say nice things about how your child is developing those traits, not to him but within his hearing.  Recognize any progress at all in the right direction.

"He's so determined when he works on a project. He takes a break and then keeps coming back to it."
"She's getting to be so good with her little brother.  You should have seen how patient she was when...."
"You won't believe what a great reader he's becoming. He spends more and more time reading these days."
"She's a whiz with numbers."
"He's growing up and becoming so responsible. He barely needs to be reminded to..."
"She's so helpful and considerate.  Why just today, she...."

Enjoy the results!

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