The weather has been growing warmer over the last month. I am not a huge fan of spring weather because its so unstable -sunny today; rain tomorrow, and it only serves as a prelude to hot and humid summer months ahead, which I despise. But having said all this, it does serve to be a good time for Haru to practice her bicycle riding , which she has gotten very good at. She very rarely falls now, and she is able to ride continuously without having to stop. Moreover, she now start and stop with having me push start her, which has increased her confidence significantly.
When Haru makes significant accomplishments like this, my wife and I try to make it an effort to compliment and praise her as much as possible to boost her confidence and self-esteem, so that she continues to improve herself. However, sometimes we forget or we intentionally don’t compliment her for fear that over-complimenting may make her grow complacent, and doesn’t see the need to practice anymore. This is particularly the case when she does gymnastics. I personally think she is very good (and she is), but lately I have been refraining from complimenting her unless she does something really significant, and at times I would even criticize small details in the hopes that she improves herself. Unfortunately, I think I have been a bit overly critical lately, because there has been some changes in her attitude towards my criticism.
At first, Haru would fish for compliments, by asking us to watch her do something really simple (like for example, a forward roll -which is something she has been able to do since she was a one year old.) This eventually evolved into her getting easily frustrated when we don’t don’t compliment her, or when she isn’t able to do the more complicated moves. Even more recently, she has shown disdain for anything for anything she attempts, regardless of whether I compliment her or not.
Even outside of her extra curricular activities, Haru has recently been showing signs of low self-esteem. This started off with her saying I don’t know how or I can’t for very something things we ask her to do, but has escalated into her saying I am not smart enough or I am not cute enough. Occasionally, when I take pictures of her, and the picture doesn’t turn out right for some reason, I would make a comment like, you look funny in this picture or this isn’t a good picture. This isn’t meant to criticize her looks, but rather to criticize the picture itself, or my own picture taking skills, but lately she has been taking these subtle comments as a dig on her, which is not good. Apparently, she is a lot more sensitive my comments and opinions than I initially thought.
The saddest part, is that my wife has recently told me that has been saying, I don’t like myself which really saddened me deeply. I don’t this comes from my over-criticism of what she does or how she does things, but more from the way we discipline her when she does something wrong or when she doesn’t listen to us. Both my wife and I get very angry with her especially when she acts disrespectfully towards us or to others. It’s something I regard very highly as one of things a child should never do, and so when she does act disrespectfully, I do come down on her hard. I don’t hit her (of course), but I do scold her verbally, which could be worse depending on the way it’s done. But the one thing I fail to do is tell her why what she did was wrong, and because of this, she probably thinks that we’re just always angry with her all of the time.
My wife and I discussed this briefly last night and agreed to be less angry with her and try to rebuild her self-esteem by showing more support, so that she can feel proud of herself and what she can do. I really do think she’s amazing, but because of this I tend to forget that she is only 5 years old and I need to treat her as such. The difficult part is striking the right balance so that she doesn’t grow complacent when we do compliment and praise her, or doesn’t grow frustrated when we don’t. More importantly, we need to show that we love and care fore her more than anything, and that when we do scold her, it’s for a reason, and not to be mean or angry with her.
Fast Tube by Casper