Here is an important question to ask ourselves as parents: What behaviors in our children evoke our greatest applause? For example, do we exult when they exhibit integrity as much as when they win a game of sports? Do we rave over quiet acts of kindness as much as we compliment clothes or physical appearance? Do we praise humility and unselfishness as much as we celebrate certificates and awards? Do we respond with swelling pride over their teachable attitudes and hard work as much as we reward final grades? Our children observe with keen eyes those things we value most. They see our eyes light up. We don’t have to say a word. Here is an example. As a young child, I remember distinctly one summer evening being tucked into bed before it was completely dark. In response to my mild protest, my father began explaining the earth’s rotation, raising objects in the air representing earth, sun, and moon. I asked, “Why don’t things fall off the earth when it is upside down?” He gasped with delight—and exclaimed, “Lois, that is an EXCELLENT question! You are really thinking!” I was shocked but absolutely thrilled at his animated response to such a simple question. I recognized that he valued good questions as a reflection of deeper thinking. It gave me confidence to think deeper, wonder more, ask more, as our sweet relationship developed over the years.
- What things evoke your most enthusiastic response? What values are you teaching this way?