Dear Dr. Laura,
I have two young children. As soon as they emerged from babyhood, my husband and I started experimenting with giving them appropriate responsibilities, patient instruction/help in completing those tasks and praise when they did a good job. We avoid kudos when no special effort is made.
We recently experienced a pay day!
My 4-year-old daughter was scheduled to dance in her end-of-the-year recital. She was all dressed up, excited about the opportunity and completely thrown by the crowd. Once onstage, she spent her class' dance number crying and refusing to even try to do the dance. Afterwards, I wrapped her up in my arms and just held her as she pulled it back together. As we sat there, the dance instructor came up and gave her a big medal on a satin ribbon for "doing a great job." After the teacher left, my daughter looked at me with confusion, handed me the medal and said, "Why would they give me this when I didn't do a good job?"
She may have blown the recital, but I've never been prouder of my kid!
Keep it up, Dr. Laura!