Considering that personalities are formed by age 6, this means that the blueprint for your child's emotional future can be a "done deal" by first grade. Of course, experiences play a role in this formation, especially traumatic experiences and those that are highly positive. But all of it takes place against the backdrop of neurology.
Avoid words such as "good" and "bad. Give them realistic feedback on the quality of their effort and performance. If they want to know how to improve, they'll ask you. Or, you give them an option to hear your input.
Two things you are looking for are positive attitude and genuine effort. Focusing on the effort and not the product/end result will help them to see that the process is really a blueprint for success in adulthood. These character traits will take them far in life.
What you really want is to develop those behaviors that will help them to optimize their gifts. Hard work, determination, commitment, discipline, ethics, integrity and being able to cope with frustration and disappointment. Very important to success in life is being able to hear and benefit from constructive criticism. They need to be able to "stay their own course" and make healthy decisions about their conduct, friends and choices in "sketchy" situations. They need to resist being duped into unethical conduct or behavior that is contrary to family values. Essentially, they need to be strong enough and committed enough to their values and use that commitment as a shield when they are being pressured.
Your son or daughter no longer needs to be the prom queen or the quarterback to feel successful. The generations coming up are less competitive and more supportive of each other than ever before. We parents are doing something right. Kids are celebrating art, theater, musical ability and other talents that may have been seen as less acceptable in days gone by. Kids today are less judgmental and far more inclusive. There's hope for us yet.
Help your kids to find their competence. Experiencing authentic success is much more powerful than Mom and Dad telling them how wonderful they are...
Tune into the Ranch, 99.1 FM in Simi Valley, California, every Thursday morning at 8:20 a.m. to hear more of these discussions. We cover a lot in 5 minutes and you may be driving or reviewing spelling words in the car, so I write up a summary every week.
As always, just do the best you can,