I have never, ever told my kids I’m proud of them. At your own place, you need to do it too. We all need to stop praising kids and take a different approach.
All we do when we praise our kids is instill in them that they need to constantly seek our approval. It’s a slippery slope. Then they always want our validation in order for them to feel good. It’s not sustainable, it’s not smart and it’s not healthy.
What we really want to do is embody their inner approval. Last week my daughter Payton won a barrel race on her horse. I was watching, so excited. She raced against 40 year old women!
But when she got back in the car, I didn’t say I was proud of her.
What I did say was, “That was incredible. You should be proud of yourself. Reflect within yourself on what you just did and what you are building. The badge of honor within yourself—that’s the legacy you are creating.”
I said, “Go and look in the mirror and say, ‘Payton, I love you. Good job’.”
I want you to try it next time your kid inspires you or achieves something of greatness. Because when you do, you’re helping them build an internal empire of self-worth that will last forever and one day make them great parents themselves.
I learned this growing up, when my parents gave me love with conditions. If I did something they thought was great, they told me how proud they were. You won that trophy, we’re so proud. You got a great mark on that quiz, we’re proud of you. You got a college scholarship—wow, are we proud.
But that was all about them praising me for how they wanted me to live. And the minute that I didn’t live up to what they wanted, I never heard that language again. I was in a cycle of seeking and relying on validation I didn’t always get and I felt unworthy of making decisions.
With my own kids, my goal as a leader to our children is to build strong empowered warriors and leaders. I don’t ever want them to feel they need to ring me and say, ‘Should I take this job?’ or ‘Should I buy this place?’ What I want or think is irrelevant.
I say “I love you” to them 500 times a day, but “I am so proud of you” is a tag that comes from an ego state of dominance. What we need to do as parents is empower the child to create a body of self-worth and self-love from within.
Via the Happy Life System, I want to create the strongest internal pillars in humans so they never have to rely on society or people for their own happiness. Kids need to be able to look at themselves and say, “I need to work on this, I love myself and can work through it.”
When a child’s coping skills rely on external approval, they become entitled: “I didn’t do it, it’s not my responsibility, can’t you do it for me?” They’ve been built up by external pride and they don’t know how to take accountability for their actions.
You need to stop telling your kids you’re proud of them and tell them they should be proud of themselves. Teach them to sit with their own emotions and learn to connect with themselves and build a body of self-love. That’s where the growth is.
A person has to sit with their ugly and feel what they feel. Not hear what anyone else thinks.