My fun calendar says today bears this title. Reading the words makes me want to run around hugging every kid I can get my hands on. (It bothers me that I ended that sentence with a preposition, but today everything I do is right, so it is all right. *big breath* It is all right…)
It is so easy to fall into a habit of criticism. I think especially when working with children—as a parent, teacher or even in more rare interactions—the process of correcting behavior can become the dominating element in relating to them. Even without intending to, we can easily convey a message opposite to the sentiment of this day: everything you do is wrong always.
I think the key is in the previous sentence: intention. We can’t simply not intend to harm. We must intend to do good. All the little corrections can add up to a highly critical spirit that can feel like utter condemnation to those bearing the brunt of the continual correction. We must be purposeful in expressing praise, gratitude and encouragement. We need to emphasize growth and improvement, no matter how small. And above all, it must be sincere. After hearing fifty good jobs distributed like random hiccups, they become worthy only of dismissal. Praise and encouragement needs to be specific and genuine for it to have any value.
This isn’t true for children only. It is true for how we treat our spouses, co-workers, extended family, friends and that poor girl who moves so slowly checking your groceries—every time!