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Acceptance. We crave it.

Nothing like a sleeping puppy! I chose this picture because today I'm writing about acceptance. Or rather lack of criticism and a faithful dog is the epitome of it: no matter what an owner does, their dog thinks their wonderful.

Children love to be loved, but being accepted is one of their core needs after food, water and shelter according to Maslows Hierarchy of Needs. When I think of acceptance I'm reminded of a poem my aunt used to have on her wall.:

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight. If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive. If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live. Most of the time! (last four words - mine!)

None of the lines speak of what we teach, they speak of what we model; the atmosphere our children live in. Children copy what they see, feel, hear and experience. It's their formative frame of reference.

That first line is powerful.

If children live with


they learn to


It's so easy to criticise. We live in a finger pointing world. Our leaders, politicians and role models trip and stumble on a daily basis. It really isn't hard to take someone down. Our own friends and family are fallible and may have different values to us. But what are we modelling? Here are three tough questions:

Do we criticise each other in front of the children?

Do we criticise others in front of them?

Do we criticise them?

Well I know I've been guilty of all three, but this little poem reminds me of that value of 'honouring others'. Our children's experiences go into their little banks, they're learning what's ok, what's not ok. They're working out whether we're trustworthy. There's nothing wrong with a bit of healthy debate about the world around our dinner table. Also, it's our role to influence and encourage our children in their challenging areas. But if we can keep our biting comments about and to others for appropriate times and find kind ways to share our thoughts our children will learn that they don't have to be perfect to be accepted. They'll also gain confidence in knowing that if you have a concern to raise about them, you won't be doing it in a critical way. If we are critical of others, present or not, it will cause our children to question our acceptance of them.

I'm going to try to be a little bit more like my dog - well, in some ways. I don't think I'll rummage through the bins!

Authenticiy is the daily practice of letting go of who we're supposed to be and embracing who we are. Brene Brown.

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