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There were times when I found myself wondering why so many adults can praise others’ children for their cuteness and good behaviour in public so easily and quickly, but immediately become distant or critical towards their children at home.

I have come across situations like this not only once but many times in my life, in my childhood I have come across. I wonder what these people were truly thinking. Did they sincerely mean what they said to others and their children?

I am not intentionally here to judge, but this is something that has always troubled me because, from my perspective, children are incredibly important. As adults, we have the greatest influence on them through our actions and words every day.

This is not the first time I have written about a topic like this. Many Truly Inspired articles have touched on similar themes. However, I still feel the need to discuss this problem because there are still many parents and adults who are still unknowingly hurting children without realising it, or perhaps without paying enough attention. They might assume that children are forgetful and that they will let things slide. Nonetheless, as someone who has grown up and has also been a child, I strongly disagree with downplaying children’s emotions when it comes to teaching them.

I recently watched a video where a mother went shopping for fresh groceries and later on that day, her 14-year-old daughter had to cook a complete meal for her family. Despite being at such a young age, she managed to cook a wonderful, fulfilling meal with lots of delicious dishes (through what is displayed in the video). The girl invited her mother to the table with pride. However, instead of praising her daughter for her hard work and the delicious meal, the mother scolded her for cooking too much and wasting food. She did not appreciate the effort and care her daughter put into it.

The mother’s words were so harsh that the girl was speechless, not understanding why her mom’s reactions were so strong. From my view, I only see a young girl who did not know how much food would be adequate and thought if her mom bought so many ingredients, that might be prepared for a feast. That is why she worked hard to cook everything. However, instead of praising the daughter for her hard work and preparation of those delicious meals, the mother only focused on how the girl had wasted her ingredients.

If the mother chose to softly notice her daughter to learn from experience for next time since only two people were eating the meal, then happily enjoyed all those dishes, and complimented her cooking, maybe she would not look stunted and upset like in that video.

Many people commented on the mother’s attitude with frustration and disappointment. Times have changed, and today’s children grow up in a more modern, convenient environment with more supporting resources. Many of them might not even know how to prepare their clothes or books, to be left alone. Not only that but the kitchen was spotless, without a single misplaced pot or pan. Nonetheless, the mother only focused on the perceived wastage without considering her daughter’s feelings and efforts.

I read a comment from a young person that struck a chord: “That feeling when you put in so much effort to show someone important how much you care, and then you get scolded, is truly heartbreaking. I completely understand the girl’s feelings. I once prepared a small birthday party for my mother, but she criticised how bad the food tasted, barely finished her portion, and just went straight to her room. I had not even had the chance to take the cake out of the fridge to blow out the candles with her. I was really sad and shocked. My mother has not been very affectionate with me before. I have always felt that she favoured my younger brother, but I did not think she saw me in such a negative light, especially when I tried so hard to show her care…”

It was heart-wrenching to read comments like these from children who have been hurt in the past. I understand these feelings. Perhaps I am fortunate to grew up and started my journey as a mother, I did not repeat the mistakes of my family in the past. I always try to make sure my daughter knows she is deeply loved and respected by both her father and me. We pay attention to her emotions and feelings.

A few days ago, I heard a similar story. There was a boy in the middle of his scorching summer day in Vietnam, heard his younger sister express a strong desire for ice cream. Out of love for her, he braved the intense heat to buy one. Unfortunately, he had a small accident on the way back, leaving him sweaty and a bit dazed. Luckily, some kind passersby helped him walk to the pedestrian road and rested for a bit. When he got up to go home, his motorcycle would not start. While his hands and legs were scraped and bleeding, he only worried if the ice cream was melting or not. Therefore, he kindly asked to temporarily park his motorbike at a citizen’s house and then called his friend to help pick him up.

It was not until he got home that he realised his scraped areas started to sting. He did not dare to tell his parents because he was afraid of being scolded. He cleaned his wounds with some antiseptic from the first-aid kit, but still kept it a secret from his parents. Then just like that, when his mother heard about the incident, her first words were not comforting or thanking him for going through so much trouble for his little sister. Instead, she launched into a tirade about how he could not even ride a motorcycle properly, and how it was going to cost money to fix it. The boy was heartbroken and started to cry…

If I were that boy, I would have felt hurt just like him. Admit it, we may be adults now, but there are still times when all we need is a word of comfort and affection from our loved ones when we are facing a problem. Is that truly enough yet?

Maybe to adults, a word of praise, encouragement, or recognition may seem small compared to the challenges and complexities of life. However, my dear friend, those things are immense for children. Sometimes, those words are as vast as the sky for them!

Positive praise may not instantly make someone’s life better, but negative, unreasonable criticism can certainly bring them down very quickly, especially for children. When they have not yet fully developed emotionally, and mentally, and have not found their balance in this enormous world, family is their strongest mental support. However, for many children, family is where they feel more pain than ever in their hearts.

I believe that you and I, all of us – who are still trying to find balance in our daily lives – have been hurt by our family members at some point. Nonetheless, let’s stop the cycle of “The hurt ones want to hurt others” and instead, practise “The hurt ones want to protect others from being hurt,” shall we?

We can make the world around us better every day just by treating our children and loved ones well. Sometimes, all a child needs is praise, and that praise never comes with a tax nor can be stolen from you. Therefore, let us try to use it at the right moment for our children, so they always feel valued and fulfilled with their childhood emotions, shall we?

Much love,
Truly Inspired

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Much love,

Truly Inspired.