I am throwing down a challenge. In the next week, every time you see a child you don't know, find a compliment that has nothing to do with what she's wearing or how he looks. Don't compliment curly hair, or sparkly shoes, or a cool shirt.
As with most parenting challenges, we are called upon to strike an all-too-elusive balance between two extremes: the tough love approach and the phony praise approach. There's more to effective parenting than either extreme offers. Here are a few ways to find the middle ground.
My sister told me something that I vowed to share with as many parents as possible: "When my kids were small, I made a conscious decision to never say, 'I'm proud of you.' Instead, I have always said to them, 'You must be so proud of yourself.'"