Every loving and wise Parent wants to rear their children to become healthy and productive citizens, who contribute more to society than they take from it. Schools and the community are active partners in shaping our children. As custodians of first resort, parents have the task of developing their children through love, guidance, discipline, and purpose toward a healthy life as adults.
Being a successful parent is a daunting and often overwhelming task for even the best prepared. So, what is successful parenting? We are successful parents when we work to rear children whom we respect for the kind of life that they live and the quality of the choices they make.
How do we achieve the elusive goal of rearing children with healthy self-esteem? There are various pieces to the puzzle. One critical part is to support our child’s healthy sense of self through affirmation and edification.
Affirmation and Edification are similar practices with the same goal, but differing points of departure.
Affirming Our Children
An affirmation is a statement of hope and expectation made to a child that expresses your belief about whom they are, what they can achieve, and whom they can become. We affirm children by sharing with them that they are worthy of success and capable of achieving remarkable things.
Affirmation offers external inspiration which inspires internal motivation. We affirm our children when we tell them they can master a task, a sport, or a game. When potty training our children, we affirm them by saying things such as,
“You can do it; I believe in you!” or “You are going to get it, just keep trying.”
The list of learning opportunities for children is virtually inexhaustible. We affirm our children early in their lives, as they learn to walk and talk. The unfortunate challenge is that our affirmations often turn into condemnations. We change our statements of aspiration from “I believe you can learn, just keep trying” and “Here, let me show you how to do that again.” to statements that condemn like, “What’s wrong with you, can’t you get it?” or “How many times do I have to show you how to do this before you get it?”
Parents must remain focused on their children’s futures by affirming them when appropriate, correcting them when necessary, and edifying them when they deserve it.
Edifying Our Children
Edification differs from affirmation in one way. Edification is not a statement of aspiration; it is the celebration of a quality or an accomplishment. We edify people by congratulating them for their successes and encouraging them to continue the same or higher level of achievement. Edification highlights a person’s attributes and accomplishments with the intent to inspire more of the same.
When your child successfully uses the potty, celebrate their success and progress. One way to edify a child, who uses the potty successfully, is to do the “Pee-Pee” dance. Your “Pee-Pee” dance can be unique to you and your child; just use your imagination.
As children grow and mature beyond the “Pee-Pee” dance kind of edification, it is important to edify their best qualities. Edify them by highlighting the personal qualities that they have; be it their smile, their speaking voice, their manners, or any other personal quality that empowers them to achieve and relate more successfully with others.
The Benefits of Affirmation and Edification
By affirming and edifying our children, we communicate our desire and expectation for their success and celebrate their personal qualities and achievements. A healthy sense of self is the hinge upon which healthy self-esteem swings.
Parents who desire to empower their children with an increased capacity to learn and achieve will benefit by consciously and actively affirming and edifying their children daily. The parent is the child’s first teacher and as such is the most impactful resource in the young and impressionable mind of a child.