Good morning, Mamma. So, last night we spent an hour honoring each other after dinner. So cool. One of my favorite things. We sat around the table and, person by person, talked about what we loved and admired in each other. Starting with younger brother, then sister, and so on. It was beautiful. So beautiful.
Starting this morning and continuing into the week, my crew departs for colleges and jobs in other states. We won’t be together again till Thanksgiving. Knowing this, last night was particularly poignant.
We’ve done this honoring thing for as long as I can remember. When the kids were little it would be, “let’s all say one nice thing about the person sitting next to you,” or “everyone is going to say one nice thing about Daddy”.
Such good stuff, on so many levels. Public praise, from those closest to you, is a powerful and beautiful thing. Try this and watch your children soak up the words. being said about them. They will sit, wide eyed and a little uncomfortable, but hanging on every word.
And generally speaking, you get more of the behavior you reward. By praising your kids in public, you reward them for the good things they do and they are more likely to be that best self more often.
Honoring like this also brings your children closer. In everyday life, we just don’t tell the people we love what we love about them often enough. To give your kids a structure and a forum to say these wonderful things out loud allows this relationship building to happen. It’s pretty completely wonderful to watch this happen.
Finally, identity is huge. Who your kids think they are is pretty much who they are going to be. When you honor them publically for the best that they do, you help to build this positive identity.
Last night, I watched as my kids told each other they were brave, hard working, strong, courageous, loving, funny, driven, perseverant, caring and joyful. I also got to sit as they told me they appreciated how hard I work to keep our family close (wonderful to hear… you notice!). I got to tell them all the ways that they are wonderful.
After an hour of this, everyone gets up from the table thinking, “I am hard working! I keep at it, even when the going gets tough! I am a caring person, I make the world a better place.” There is a glow that remains from this kind of love-out-loud. They’ll carry it with them. So will you.
Try it tonight with your own crew over dinner. You start, so that your kids will have an idea of how it works. “Let’s all say one thing we love and respect about Johnny. I’ll start. Johnny, I love how you cleaned your room so well this week – you did a great job. You are such a responsible kid,” or “Johnny, I really respect the courage you showed when you dove into basketball camp. It’s not easy to meet new people or learn new skills, but you just got in there and worked hard and I really respect you for it.”
I bet you’ll keep doing it. Build that love, Mamma.