When your kid runs up to you, proud to show you their artwork or LEGO creation or later, a video they just made catching a sweet throw in backyard football, your reaction is typically — “Hey, that’s amazing!” or “Great job, I’m so proud of you!” And while these reactions are totally normal, and give your kid all the positive feels, Dr. Becky Kennedy, renowned psychologist, parenting coach, and author of “Good Inside,” wants us to play the long game instead.
She explains in (another) viral September Instagram post that it’s not about what makes them feel good right now, but about modeling skills that will help them look inward, not outward, for approval in their futures.
In the video, her daughter is excited to show her a rainbow painting she made. “Mom…I want you to see what I just made!” Dr. Becky goes into an aside, talking about how great the picture actually is. Then, she explains how she will react that isn’t just “It’s so amazing.”
She nods to the fact that it’s also just okay to say this sometimes too. But she has the future in mind:
“When she does something in life…I don’t want her next step in her wiring to be, ‘Who’s going to tell me it’s good?’ I want her to look in, and say, ‘What do I think?’. If I want that later on, I have to start that wiring now.” Instead, she suggests these alternative responses:
Tell me about it
How did you think to make that
What’s your favorite part?
Then, when she excels at a project at work, writes an essay, or makes a piece of art as an adult, she will be looking for her own approval, not others’. It’s not the first time Dr. Becky has modeled for us how to act in the moment with her kids, helping us all to be better parents on the fly and in the “trenches.” Check out her 5 second tip as well for immediate change with your kids.