Praise Over Criticism: A Big Moment in Parenting

It was one of those moments that felt strikingly important
to me as a parent.

My daughter stood in front of me, her purple and
gold-colored journal in hand. Inside that little fabric-covered book were the
first five chapters of a fanciful story she has been writing.

“Mommy, I am ready for you to read it now,” she said,
looking expectant at first, and then lowering her eyes in a way that surprised

She seemed a little bit nervous – shy, even – about sharing
her first self-initiated creative writing effort with me.

And somehow I was nervous, too.

In that moment, I recognized something: It was time to carry
out the vision I have for myself as a parent – the vision to be a parent who
empowers my children to explore who they are and what they enjoy to its
fullest, without fear of failure or rejection.

The story is probably what you would expect from a rising
second-grader who loves horses, longs to fly, and often enjoys tales of magic,
evil wizards, bold heroines, and quests.

There were things in her story that were not perfect.

Punctuation was missing. More details and explanations were
needed. And the word “chapter” was spelled three different ways.

But I am happy to say that I looked past those shortcomings
and focused on the many positives.

The plot was quite intriguing, really. And there were places where she used literary devices I did not know she had
noticed in her own reading. And more than anything, I could tell that she put
her whole heart into her work.

And that says a lot.

So I hugged her, and kissed her, and told her that she was
amazing – that her book was amazing. I pointed out some of the language I
appreciated most and some of the points in the story where I was surprised. And
then I told her I absolutely could not wait to see more.

My girl soon returned to her oversized brown beanbag chair
in the corner of the playroom and continued writing, smiling confidently as she
scrawled away.

And while I watched her write, chewing on her lower lip in a
quirky way that I also do when I am banging on my laptop keys, I felt a sense
of relief.

This was a big moment. And I handled it just as I had hoped.

Now, for tomorrow …..







About moniquehenderson

I am the mother of H Squared - a seven-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl who constantly keep me thinking and moving. I also am a teacher - both of grade schoolers and adults. I am a constant question asker and researcher - a practice informed by my days as a print journalist and from my work earning a doctorate degree in Leadership for Educational Justice from a leading Southern California university.

Posted on August 1, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. your job as a parent to this very enthusiastic and self challenging little person encourages me in my profession, to continue to provide all kinds of opportunities for each child in my class to stretch beyond the limitations of the curriculum, and reach for their dreams…

  2. First of all, Hannah is an incredible child, amazing really…but then what would one expect given that she is a mini-Monique. JEC

  3. made me cry again with this one, Monique, and in only a few paragraphs. you are a great writer. i can see little Hannah in her chair, biting her lip. yes, a big moment in parenting. we can all learn from these moments, can’t we? just an hour ago, Bella brought me a giant-sized picture of a fairy she had painted, looking at me for my response. prompted by my husband’s wisdom in the past, i smiled, and letting her see the praise in my expression, told her how beautiful her colors were (she is only 4). of course, i got the response i wanted, because her angel face lit up and there is nothing more beautiful than that. can’t wait to see what you write next! 🙂

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