Every child wants to be noticed: “Look at me!” “Watch me!” “See how I can do this!” Having an adult take notice and interact provides formative feedback for children.
What do adults notice? What do they not notice? How do they respond? This is all data that children take into account as they decide how to behave in the future. “What gets me noticed? And why?”
By practicing the skills of noticing and commenting, you strengthen children’s moral and spiritual development. Catch them in the act of sharing, cooperating, being kind, or looking out for the welfare of others. When that happens, notice it and comment on it. One of my mentors, Dr. Becky Bailey, states, “Proactively notice all helpful, kind acts children perform. Notice these acts privately to the child and publicly” to their friends and family.
The 8-minute video below shows how these two skills are performed in a classroom context. During the first half, Dr. Bailey introduces the skill of noticing in the context of classroom discipline. In the last 4 minutes, she demonstrates the skill of commenting.
Today, try noticing ten helpful acts a child performs. Small ones are fine. The following are suggested steps for commenting on what you notice:
- Step 1: Start the statement with the word “you.”
- Step 2: Describe in detail what the child did.
- Step 3: Relate how the child’s behavior helped someone else or the entire family.
- Step 4: End by saying, “That was helpful!” “That was kind,” or “That was caring.”
- Catch kids in the act of sharing or looking out for the welfare of others and comment publicly. Click to Tweet
- The challenge of affirming kids is to describe what you see rather than judging the behavior as “good job” or “being good.” Click to Tweet