Acknowledgment Is the Key to Parenting

Acknowledgment Is the Key to Parenting

by Jacinta Kreiner

Acknowledgement is the key to emotionally focused, healthy parenting. I think everyone can remember a point in their childhood when they heard the infamous “because I told you so” when they posed a question or didn’t want to do something. Maybe we find ourselves using this phrase in our own life when dealing with conflict with our kids. While we can all recognize that this isn’t the best way to get a child to cooperate in difficult situations, what else can we do? This is where acknowledgment comes in as a fresh, new approach to parenting.

Children are developing at incredible rates physically, mentally, and emotionally. As parents, it is important to do everything we can to nurture growth in all of these areas so that our kids can be well rounded, healthy individuals. Acknowledgement is a key way to help resolve conflict and address the mental and emotional growth of your child.

The first step to working acknowledgement into your parenting style is by understanding what acknowledgement is, and what it is not. Acknowledgement is NOT:

  1. Condoning bad behavior

  2. Passive parenting

  3. Easy way out

Acknowledgement IS:

  1. Validating your child’s emotions

  2. Teaching your child to be comfortable naming and communicating their emotions

  3. Effective

Acknowledgement is the harder way to go, it’s not as easy as dismissing your child or just “moving on.” Acknowledgement looks like saying “I understand that you’re upset that you can’t have the candy, but we are having dessert later after dinner” instead of “No, you can’t have the candy, we’re having dinner soon” when your child is having a fit in the store. As you can imagine, this is going to take a lot more effort on the parents’ part and will require a lot more patience and self control. However, it is the best way for the long term consequences and conflict resolution. It is important that children learn how to name their emotions and learn what the best course of action is to deal with those emotions.

Every parent wants a child who knows that they can come to them when they are struggling no matter what. Acknowledgment gives them room to do that. If a parent consistently dismisses their child’s negative emotions, why would that child feel comfortable bringing the negative things in their life to that parent?

Acknowledgment is also helpful to use when dealing with positive emotions and accomplishments. Here, acknowledgment is helpful for teaching a child to be introspective instead of attention seeking. Try being encouraging and acknowledging when your child is working on a project instead of loudly giving praise and applause. Excessive praise can distract the child from the task at hand and take the joy away from the accomplishment and transfer the joy to the receival of praise. Consistently, this can teach your child to habitually seek praise and approval from others and can even create unperceived pressure on your child to be successful. Acknowledgement, rather than creating pressure and an addiction to praise, is a positive way to motivate, encourage, and create introspection.

Acknowledgement is not only the key to successful parenting, but it is also the key to being a well-rounded person. These types of strategies are as much of a help to you as they are to your child. If you practice acknowledgment you will be able to manage conflict with anyone in a more level and controlled way aimed more towards solution than a temporary fix. So next time when you can feel conflict brewing with your child, think of how you can use acknowledgement to resolve the issues instead of just saying “because I told you so.”

If you find that you need additional support with parenting, we’re here to help! If you’d like to explore working with a therapist, contact us at (734) 323-4897 or for more information. Our practice, based in Novi, Michigan, is home to a team of psychologists with a wide range of expertise. We also offer teletherapy and can see anyone in the state of Michigan.

Jacinta is a G3 Contributing Writer.


Janet Lansbury, The Key to Your Child’s Heart