When my children were young, it was so easy to lavish them with praise:
"'Mama!' That's right! He's a genius! He said 'Mama'!"
"Oh my goodness! What a big boy you are! You went pee-pee in the potty!"
"Wow! What a great reader you are!"
"Yes! Three grapes plus one grape is four grapes! You are so smart!"
"Look at you! You're riding your bike all by yourself!"
"What a good sharer you are!"
Somewhere along the line, it gets harder. I'm not sure why, and maybe it's just me, but it gets harder. For one, by ages 9 and 12, they are most certainly putting their pee-pee in the potty. Furthermore, as a homeschooling mom, I'm trying hard to help my children succeed by pointing out their mistakes -- on math, grammar, spelling, writing, etc. As a Christian mom, I want my kids to become more Christ-like by pointing out all the ways they are not acting like Christ. Do I spend an equal amount of time pointing out when they ARE showing the fruits of the Spirit?
The middle-school years are full of insecurity, and I need to remember to praise my boys MORE as they get older, not less. Kids need their moms and dads to praise them sincerely for effort, hard-work, integrity, Christ-likeness, and the things they do right.
So, take a minute and look for a reason to praise your children today! Make it a habit. As your children get older, don't forget it. They need it more, not less.
That's my prayer for today and for the future -- that I will become better at praising my boys -- consistently and often.