What Criticism Does to a Child: Guest Post by Ella Kampakis

(Following is a post by my 10-year-old daughter. It was inspired by a conversation we recently had in the car about a reality show and the impact of criticism. Ella is wise beyond her years and has excellent insight on how we parents can help our children meet their potential in a loving, positive manner).

A while back I was at a friend’s house, and we stayed up late watching the show “Dance Moms.” While I really liked their dance competitions, it made me sad that the girls didn’t seem to know they had talent.

I never heard anyone tell them, “Good job” or “I can see you practiced.” All they said was “Work harder,” “That’s awful,” and stuff like that. They never told them they had talent. I can’t speak for those girls, but if that was me on TV I would have felt lost because I thought dancing was my talent, but no one was appreciating it.ella-blog

What I think Abby and the moms should have told those girls is that they were still good and had talent, but they needed to keep working hard and practice. When the girls did work hard and practice, no one noticed. Nobody congratulated them or said, “I’m proud of you. Your hard work paid off.”

The thing about criticism is you remember it a while. Once you get that voice in your head, it’s hard to get it out. You start thinking the voice in your head is right. It makes you want to quit and puts you in an awful mood.

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Children are Blessings, Not Burdens

Being a mom is a blessing. At the same time it’s hard.

Not rocket-science hard, but test-my-patience hard. How can something that looks so simple from the outside arouse the monster in me and crush the wall of sanity I once deemed indestructible?blessing

As a child I put motherhood on a pedestal, holding many romanticized notions. I’d coddle my baby dolls until they were threadbare, stroll them around the house, and line them up neatly to teach school. Being kind was easy because they were always content. I could abandon them on a whim and return hours later, their smiles plastered in place.

But there’s a difference between live babies and inanimate ones, and only an insider can understand the relentless demands of the real thing. Prior to joining the mom club, I’d see a beautiful child dressed up and think how much fun it’d be to have my own. I never considered the legwork required to get that child out the door: the cajoling her out of bed, the scrambling to iron her dress, the time spent fixing breakfast, brushing teeth, and fighting to get a bow in her hair.

On a good day I love being a stay-at-home mom and I’m grateful to have the option. But some days I wish I could trade places with my husband.

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