Celebrating Our Children and Ourselves

This time of year
reminds me of the importance of celebration in our lives. We love to celebrate!
Holiday parties, gift giving, New Year’s parties, birthday parties, graduation
parties, etc.–we have many ways of celebrating events and new beginnings.

 

This holiday season I
challenge parents (and teachers!) to really celebrate their children for who
they are. Every single one of our children has unique gifts and unique contributions
to make to our world. If children are not celebrated and acknowledged for the wonders
that they are and for their unique contributions, they will not be able to
discern their natural gifts and talents and their true “calling” during their
growing up years.

 

Too often, children
are evaluated in terms of how they perform in school, and only those who do
“well” receive acknowledgment. Children quickly lose heart when day after day
they don’t do well on assignments, or fail a test, or are told they are not
measuring up. Or they become unmotivated and even depressed when urged to go in
a direction that is counter to their talents and natural gifts–in many cases,
the adults in a child’s life force the child into a career or life of the
adult’s choosing.

 

The adults in a
child’s life need to be mentors, guides, coaches…helping that child discover
who he/she is We are to celebrate our children in our hearts as well as
outwardly with support and encouragement.

 

How can we celebrate all
of our children and ensure that they see themselves as the marvelous
individuals they are? Here are a few ways:

 

1. Celebrate your
children for who they are, NOT for the quality or quantity of their school
work.

2. Get into the habit
of pointing out what is RIGHT about your children.

3. Acknowledge their
interests, talents, and the contributions they make to the family.

4. Encourage them to
pay attention to their own positive characteristics and actions.

5. Teach them to
recognize their accomplishments.

 

Compare these two
sets of comments:

When are you going to
get it right?…Well, if there’s a way to mess it up you’ll find it…You’re so
clumsy…I know you’ll lose it…You’ll probably forget like you always do…

 

Wow, thanks for
remembering to pick that up…I noticed you put your ring in a safe
place…Thanks for helping your brother…That was tricky and you managed to
get it done…I admire your willingness to do a few math problems even though
you really dislike math…

 

If children live with
the first set of comments, it’s not a big surprise if they themselves say
things like: I’m so clumsy…I’ll lose it for sure…I can’t do it…I never
finish things, that’s just the way I am…

 

Children who live
with the second set of comments learn to be confident and to pay attention to
what they do right. You are liable to hear them say things like:

 

Well, it’s hard but I
can try it…Next time I’m going to do it this way…Maybe I can make a plan so
that doesn’t happen again…I know I can do it…I did it!

 

Remember that school
is not life. In the end, in the real world, it won’t matter whether your child
conquered dangling participles or still doesn’t get Algebra…what will matter
is whether your child believes in himself, whether she is confident about her
own abilities and what she CAN do. It is our job as parents and teachers to
bring out the star in our children and show them where they shine.

 

What do you love
about your child…that delightful laugh, boundless energy, terrific memory,
knowing just what to say to put others at ease, love of animals, a green thumb,
being the life of the party, ability to fix anything, an amazing imagination…?
These are examples of characteristics to be celebrated!

 

So now, how about you? How do you celebrate yourself?
Do you acknowledge your many daily accomplishments? Do you focus on your
strengths, talents, and gifts? Have you found your calling in life? If you
didn’t discover it while growing up, get started now–it’s never too late!

 

Be a model for your children
by celebrating yourself and them, in little ways and in big ways. Create celebrations
that bring out the stars that are shining inside all of us. What a great way to
begin the new year! Happy celebrating!

 

©2010 by Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis & Reflective Educational Perspectives, LLC

Mariaemma Pelullo-Willis is a
Learning Styles Specialist for School & Life Success. She is co-author of
Discover Your Child’s Learning Style, Midlife Crisis Begins in Kindergarten,
and Learning Style Profile Online. She is co-founder of LearningSuccess™
Institute, offering Life Launch High School, customized programs for
homeschool/independent study, and LearningSuccess training for parents and
teachers.
m@learningsuccesscoach.com, 805-648-1739

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