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My daughter Baylee and I have this standing tradition of when she gets back a test or quiz she emails me the grade.  Now, she’s a straight-A student. This isn’t a bragging blog, this is a real-life blog.  If you ever read back my responses to her, you will only see ONE response.  “I’m so proud of your effort and intentionality.”

In a world where kids are being praised for results, I am choosing to praise my kids on effort, and here is why.

I know in life you really only get paid for results, BUT you only get results through intentional and focused effort.  If you give your all every time, you will always see results.  If you give your all and somehow fail (which is inevitable at some point) you want to have been so focused and intentional that you can pinpoint where it went sideways and do your best to fix it for next time. 

If I only ever praise her “good grades” then she will never feel successful UNLESS she is nearing 100% all the time, and guess what? THAT JUST ISN’T POSSIBLE.  Our kids hardly see hard work and mistakes.  What they see are fake timelines, unrealistic expectations, and photoshopped results.

Do you know what made me think of this? Even in my canned response and intentional conversations with her she still came home crying 2 weeks ago for getting an 85. Her first 85 in her life and she studied…a lot. I helped her study. Adam helped her study.  We even called her Uncle to help her and she still missed some of the answers but you know what? We were so proud of her effort and her discipline to even leave dance class early to study (We don’t coach her on that, we let her make her own decisions, then she has to own them). So I went back and said the same thing I say in the emails, “Baylee, I’m proud of your effort and Intentionality. It may not feel like a win but not giving up and giving it your all IS the win.”

If you ever heard me teach, I tell my students that all the time, “I’m not going to praise your talent, because that will only get you so far.  I will praise your effort, your respect for yourself and others, your perseverance, your drive, and your focus.” Talent may get you noticed but Character will keep you in the winner’s circle.

  So from one parent to another, can we do the same for ourselves?  We may not do this parenting thing 100% correctly all the time.  If you are like me, I’m lucky if I feel “successful” at this parenting thing 50% of the time but you know what? I’m doing the best I can, giving it my all, with all my effort, focus, and intentionality that I can.  My hope by modeling it for my kiddos? That they will understand hard work and effort are how we win on the stage of life. Maybe, just maybe they will learn to give themselves a little grace along the way too <3.