I grew up with my parents and my brothers around me all the time. There was love. At times that love revolved around right words and right actions, occasionally with a parent making harsh corrections.

The older I get, and the more adolescents and adults that I see for their mental health concerns, the more I recognize that kids need loving, predictable, and stable boundaries. Kids need to learn by frequent, excellent examples…by witnessing how things are said, what things are discussed, how things are done, how people behave, and how good people treat each other.

Kids are exceptionally good imitators. They want to do good work. They want to show-off their good work and accomplishments. They want to become independent, competent, and confident. They want to be, at the very least, noticed for who they are, and for their competencies and accomplishments. Compliments from people who matter in kids’ lives, are not just superfluous bonuses. Compliments augment these kids’ internal drives to persist and to achieve more.

Kids want and need your attention, and your encouragement.

In contrast, corrections, reprimands, demerits, tongue lashings, public or private shaming, corporal punishment, and corrective action plans are demoralizing, and at their worst, work temporarily, create traumatic, defensive behaviors, and are dehumanizing.

Charles Tadros, M.D.

February 24, 2023

Saint Louis, Missouri

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