When children succeed in school, they are publicly rewarded for their achievements. As parents, we're proud of our children's accomplishments. But I realize that had I given my children my own special awards, I could have shown them just how wonderful I knew they were.
It wouldn't have had to been an elaborate production. It could have simply been at a weekly family meal. The tangible award might have just been a sheet of paper describing the award. The important thing is that I told each of my children out loud and in front of the family exactly why I was proud of them.
I would have awarded my children for the things they did. Maybe they kept their room clean, did extra chores, or brought home good grades that week. By recognizing the good things they do, we encourage our children to keep at it and we show them that what they do matters to us.
I would have awarded my children for what they didn't do. Maybe they didn't argue with a sibling, didn't sulk when they didn't get their way, or didn't have to be pried out of bed for school. By recognizing what they "don't" do, we encourage our children to do what they should and we show them that we notice when they show restraint.
I would have awarded them for who they are. Maybe they made me laugh because of their sense of humor, moved me with a story because of their eloquence with words, or shared a quiet moment with me because of their sensitivity. By recognizing their particular talents, we encourage our children to develop those talents and show them that we know who they are inside.
I would have awarded them for what they meant to our family. Maybe the oldest took charge in a situation, or our soccer player taught the youngest a new skill, or the organizer planned family night. By recognizing their role in our family, we encourage our children to take an active part in our family and we show them how much our family needs them.
I would have awarded them for their special places in my heart. I would remember a story from our past and tell them how much each of them means to me. Maybe seeing a commercial reminded me of Sam's birth, or finding an old soccer picture reminded me of Maribeth's first soccer sign-up, or getting a haircut reminded me of Molly's uneven bangs. By recognizing their imprint on our lives, we encourage our children to realize how much they mean to us and show them how their lives have changed ours.
My awards wouldn't sit on the shelf with the athletic trophies, the academic certificates, or the school plaques. But I would announce them and make them just as public, because my children achieved these awards just be being the amazing people they are.
About the Author:
Luanne Davidson is the proud mother of three adult children and wonders what might have been if she had done a thing or two differently. She writes her "Coulda, Woudla, Shoulda" column each Thursday.