We all feel proud of our kids sometimes. There are times when they earn our pride by doing something outstanding, like winning a trophy in sports, getting great grades at school, or achieving something they've worked really hard for – and eventually, things like graduating college, starting a career, and even having kids of their own. Then there are times when they reach important milestones in their lives, like learning to read, going on their first trip without their parents, or starting a new grade at school. Finally, there are also those times when we feel proud of the kind of people our children are, and are becoming, such as when they do something very nice for someone or show their determination and commitment to something.
Why It Is Really Important That Children Know When They've Made Their Parents Proud
At all of these times, it is very important that our children know how proud we are. Children generally thrive on the approval of the people they love, and tend to try really hard because they want us to feel proud of them. By showing when they have made us proud, we are giving them something very important; they know that we love them unconditionally, however when we feel proud of them, that is something that they have earned and can feel really good about.
Telling our kids we are proud of them also rewards them for doing the kind of things we want to encourage them to do. It can also keep up their motivation as they want to continue to make their parents proud, and so getting recognition for one good grade can really inspire them to keep working hard and do even better next time. Encouragement is one of the most important things kids can get from their families, and recognition when they achieve something can be as encouraging as being supportive on the way there.
Knowing You Are Proud of Them Is Just as Important for Teens and Grown Up Kids
When your kids get older and more independent, they may find other forms of inspiration, and other people like friends and partners to encourage them in what they do. They may seem like they don't need or even want your approval any more as they start their own lives. However, just about everyone who has a good relationship with their parents still wants to know that they are proud of them.
Teens and adults can take on all kinds of stressful challenges, from important teen milestones like learning to drive and graduating from high school, to later things like college, working life, and relationships. Sometimes, they choose paths that their parents may not have chosen for them, or doubt themselves as they face difficult experiences. Knowing that their parents are proud of who they are and what they have done can be extremely important at these times, and a real source of strength.
Telling Your Children You Are Proud
Letting your kids know how you feel when they make you swell with pride is easy to do, and appropriate for both major and minor achievements and events. Tell them clearly without obfuscating the point, but also say exactly what it is you are proud of. This is especially important with younger children who will be learning from what you say.
If your child makes a good choice or does something you want to encourage, you can say something like 'I'm very proud that you did such a good thing by yourself' and perhaps follow it up with a compliment that is relevant to what they did, such as 'it really shows you thought very carefully about it', or 'you are growing into a very kind/sensible/smart person'.
If they have achieved something at school or in their hobbies or sports, then it can be good to show that you know they worked hard. Even naturally talented kids who achieve impressive things quite regularly value knowing that you are proud of their effort as well as their natural abilities. This can also be a good time to add some encouragement and motivation. You can say something like 'I'm so proud of you for winning that trophy, not just because it means you did really well, but because it showed how hard you can work to achieve something important to you. If you keep going, I'm sure this will just be the beginning of what you can do!'.
Sometimes, because we're parents, we actually feel extremely proud of our kids for things that aren't really achievements at all, but normal developments that didn't really have anything to do with their efforts or intentions! If you feel teary with pride when your child loses their first tooth or has a birthday, for instance, then think about what this really means and how you can express your pride to your child without confusing them by effectively congratulating them for something that happens to everyone and which they can't connect mentally with something they actually did! Consider saying something like 'This is a very important moment in your life that means you are growing up, and I feel very proud of the person you are!'.
Giving Gifts When You're Proud of Your Children
Sometimes, when there is a big reason to be proud, gifts and treats can be a good way to make the occasion special – as well as, of course, telling your child how you feel. This can take the form of small rewards to make your child feel good, like a day out together or stopping for ice cream, or big gifts that mark important milestones and achievements, such as buying a special item your child really wants or needs when they get a very good grade, or even buying them something like a car or special trip overseas when they graduate.
Finding something that matches the scale of the occasion is important – you don't want to spoil your kids by buying them expensive new stuff every time they do well on a quiz in school or win a game with their sports team, so smaller treats are more appropriate for these more routine achievements. When the event is very significant, though, you may want to choose something they will always remember or can keep as a token that shows how proud you were of them at that time. A good choice can be something like stamped jewelry with a special message on it. This can be a lovely thing for them to wear and can also be treasured for years to come.
Another good option can be to get something related to their achievement that can help inspire them on to even greater heights, like a new computer to do their schoolwork on, a new musical instrument or piece of sports equipment, or tickets to a relevant event.
Telling Other People About Your Kids Achievements
Another way you can really show your kids how proud of them you are is by expressing it in front of other people who will also be proud – such as other family members and your friends. If you rush to call grandma and let her know how well your child did in their exam, they will feel even more valued. Or, try saying 'I told everyone at work about that goal you scored in your soccer match, they think you're amazing!' and watch your child glow with happiness!
Naturally, not everyone wants to hear about every detail of your family life, so perhaps limit these flagrant displays of pride to your close family and friends rather than all of your Facebook contacts. But remember that children notice a lot about your actions and will know you really are very proud if they see you sharing their news.
Avoid Backhanded Praise
As your kids grow up, there will be so many unforgettable moments when they surprise, impress and humble you. Making sure that they know that you feel both happy for them and proud of them at these times is the key to helping them feel confident enough to keep reaching for the stars and trying new things. Of course, sometimes there will be times they don't do so well or exhibit behaviors you'd rather discourage. Remember when you are talking to your kids about good things they have done not to bring up other less positive things, even by way of comparison. Saying 'I'm so proud you got an A, you really stopped being lazy with your studies since your teacher told you off last month' may contain the words 'I'm so proud', but loses a lot of its impact by reminding your child that not so long ago, you were quite disappointed. Keep negative talk out of these conversations to reinforce the good behaviors.
What special things have made you proud of your family recently, and how did you celebrate them? Tell us all about your experiences with your own children in the comments, and keep sharing the pride!