Today, I’ve got one easy trick that will almost instantly make you a better mom. It won’t make dinner cook faster, or get you excited about yet another recital. But it will up the positive energy in your home.
What’s the trick?
Author Neil McNerney refers to it as hit-and-run praise. The idea is that you praise your child (the hit) and then you escape before you say something to mess it up (the run).
For example, your child who struggles in history class brings home his first A. You say, “That’s wonderful. I’m so proud of you.” If you had left it at that, your child would get to bask in the accomplishment. But as parents, it’s just too hard to leave well enough alone.
Do any of these statements sound familiar?
- Now, why couldn’t you get an A on all your other tests?
- We’ve got to figure out how to keep this up?
- Okay, I don’t expect anything lower than an A from here on out.
Your initial praise of your child has been squashed like a bug.
What Hit-and-Run Praise Does
Your ability to give praise without critique forces you to stay in the present. Your mind doesn’t wander to what your child should have done in the past or should do in the future. By staying in the moment, you and your child get to genuinely enjoy the victory.
When you give hit-and-run praise, you have to stay child focused. You might have some pearl of wisdom to pass along with that compliment—for instance, reminding your child that hard work pays off. But that’s another conversation for another day.
When you are doing hit-and-run praise, you are forced to concentrate on what that child needs to hear at that moment, rather than your own feelings, agenda, or need to be right.
The Impact of Hit-and-Run Praise on Your Child
Try drive-by-praise on a child who is accustomed to regular criticism and the results can be startling. They may:
- Sit and wait for the inevitable “but” and “if” statements that normally accompany your praise.
- Offer their own “but” and “if” statements before you can.
- Follow you to next room and ask, “Is that it? You don’t have anything bad to say?”
Eventually, even the most battle-worn child will come to appreciate sincere praise from their parents.
Today, offer your child praise. It could be that they cleaned their room, made the whole car ride without harassing their sister, or ate all of their peas. Whatever it is, give the praise (the hit) and don’t say another word, leave the room if you must (the run).
Bonus: This also works on spouses. Tell your husband he did a great job washing the car, without mentioning that he should do it more often, and see what happens.
To my readers: How do you show your child praise? What does your child do to make you proud?