The Importance of Showing Appreciation

 According to Josh McDowell, "When we express appreciation to young people, we give them a sense of significance." And this appreciation is one of the cornerstones of connecting to our children.

"Our acceptance of young people tells them that their being matters. Expressing our appreciation to them says that their doing matters too. Appreciation gives people a sense of significance -- feeling that they are valued and that their accomplishments do make a difference to someone."

McDowell encourages parents to show appreciation for their children not only for the sake of their children's self-esteem, but for improving discipline in the home, as well. He says, "The more you praise your young people for what they are doing right, the less you have to criticize and discipline them for doing something wrong."

Many parents struggle with finding the right words to say or knowing what to praise.

McDowell says, "It isn't a matter of not being able to find things to appreciate about your kids; it's about disciplining yourself to speak up and tell your kids what you see -- to give them honest praise for their effort." He offers several practical examples:

* "Thank you for getting your homework done on time."
* "I appreciate it when you take your dirty dishes to the sink after we eat."
* "Thank you for putting the car in the garage for me without being asked."
* "I appreciate you for spending time with your little sister when you wanted to be out with your friends."

However, McDowell throws in a bit of caution. "Unless your young people are absolutely convinced that you accept them for who they are, your praise and appreciation can become manipulative. Appreciation without acceptance may prompt a student to relate to you on a performance basis." While giving praise is necessary to your child's well-being, make sure they also feel secure and accepted for who they are. They need to know you will love them whether they succeed or not.

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