“I don’t think I got a note today!” my preschooler confidently told me when I picked him up from school. Whether or not he had received a daily note had become top of mind for him and admittedly for me as well. By note, I’m referring to instances of bad behavior. In our experience, teacher’s notes were never a good thing, and lately we had been receiving them on a weekly basis.
My five-year-old went on to tell me about how he was kind to one of his classmates earlier in the day. I was relieved…and then surprised when we got into the car, and I opened his backpack and read aloud the following:
Reid hit a friend at circle time today. He wouldn’t apologize when asked. Then he kicked the same friend when she tried to hug him during a song. Had to sit outside circle time for the remainder of the session.
I glanced into the rear-view mirror in time to watch the optimism in my boy’s face crumble into disappointment as he softly cried, “But they didn’t catch me doing good.” My heart sank.
Recognition Never Gets Old
We never outgrow the desire for others to catch us doing good, do we? Even if we don’t crave constant recognition of our hard work and good deeds like a child might, we all appreciate the occasional “atta boy” from our teammates and especially our leaders.
So why are we often so lousy at giving recognition? It’s rarely an intentional effort to rob others of encouragement. More often than not, it’s because:
• We’re too busy or in a hurry to get to the next thing
• We allow ourselves to get consumed with handling the failures/bad behavior
• We don’t personally thrive on encouragement, so we forget to give it to others
• We don’t think we should have to thank people for “doing their job”
Commit to Catching Others Doing Good
Whether we’re watching the evening news or scrolling our social media feeds, it can be easy to get caught up in everything NOT going right. As leaders – and preschool teachers – we do have to correct bad habits, mistakes, and negative behavior. Yet we must balance that coaching and correction with encouragement and positive reinforcement when we see it. For example:
• Make catching teammates doing good a daily habit. You can thank them face-to-face or highlight their win via email to the whole team. Just make sharing genuine gratefulness and positive recognition a habit.
• Thank your family members for helping out around the house. Should they help out because they live there?! Well, yes! But it doesn’t hurt to thank your spouse or children for contributing to the effort.
• Thank someone who probably doesn’t get much recognition. When was the last time you thanked the employee cleaning the bathrooms at a sporting event or gathering the stray carts in the supermarket parking lot? Catch and highlight the good – especially if it’s overlooked or taken for granted.
So What About Your Kid?
If you made it this far, you may be wondering what happened with my preschooler! Well, we decided the best move for him would be to another school that would be a better fit, and so far he is thriving.
Doesn’t that seem a little drastic? It sure does…And your employees may be considering a similar drastic change if they too are starved for you to catching them doing good. Who can you catch doing good today?