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Internal or External Mistakes to Avoid


As a young mother, I wanted to do the job perfectly. Of course, this goal became impossible as I racked up one mistake after another. Fortunately, not all mistakes end in disasters. The value of sincere apologies can strengthen the mother and child bond. Lessons can be learned. Goals can be rewritten.


Believing I was providing positive reinforcement, I assured my son of his superior intelligence. Certainly, he could learn and achieve academic success. Did I emphasize his kind nature enough?

Likewise, I assured my young daughter that she had talent. Imagine my chagrin when I learned that I could encourage her in healthier ways.


My mistakes? I focused on external qualities over intrinsic values. From the book, Parenting with Kindness and Consequences, I share the following.


A little girl who grows up on an emotional diet of hearing how well she sings may spend her entire life failing to grasp her intrinsic values. Life is more than a contest. The quality of one’s existence depends on traits such as kindness to others, courage to stand up for fairness, and strength to tell the truth.

In a similar fashion, a young boy whose childhood feedback focuses on his high IQ may miss out on developing inner fortitude. When confronted by a topic that does not come easily to him, he may not believe in himself, put in the time and effort needed for mastery, or demonstrate the patience required for delayed gratification.


Even though we know that external qualities such as athletic skill, intelligence, and beauty must fade with the years, we often fail to accentuate inner qualities that can increase with time. Patience is an example of an inner value. Faith can carry an individual through the worst of situations. Love becomes the most important inner quality of all.


In What Great Parents Do, Dr. Erica Reischer shares that people who praise outer traits tend to promote less confidence rather than more. As a young mother, I heaped bushels of praise on my children. I doubt that I emphasized my children’s internal strengths, the ones that matter, enough. Consider the internal traits, listed below.

· Courage

· Honesty

· Kindness

· Persistence

· Loyalty

· Empathy

· Effort


Today, with our great-granddaughter, rather than telling her she is SO smart, I say, “Daisy you are a thinker. You do not give up when learning a new skill.” The status of her IQ matters much less than her value for thinking and persisting when a task seems difficult.

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