Upbringing must be unnoticeable. If you want to teach your child anything, do it without your child noticing your teaching. Teach without teaching, preaching, or lecturing. A child knows that at school a teacher teaches and evaluates the child’s progress: is the child doing good or bad. At home a child wants to rest from being evaluated. However, any teaching, if noticed, assumes the inevitable- an evaluation will follow. Many parents constantly give their approval or disapproval to a child: good boy, good job, or, naaah, not so good… This eventually touches the child’s dignity, the child’s sense of worth. In this environment, where the child has no rest from being evaluated, being watched, and being taught, upbringing becomes ineffective. When it happens parents assume that they are doing not enough of teaching and work even harder to teach the child a lesson.
A child learns lessons not from the parents’ words addressed to the child but from parent’s words addressed to the world around the child. The child notices parental approval or disapproval of other people’s actions, no matter whether or not those people live together in the same house or out in the world. Good parents don’t necessarily approve or disapprove their child’s actions. They let a child be a child. They show no doubts in their child’s value. They make most of efforts toward increasing dignity of their children.
Increasing dignity of children doesn’t include praising children right and left, with or without reason. Parents mistakenly think that praising children without reasons raises children’ self-esteem. In fact, praising without reasons leads children to confusion, when they inevitably encounter people’s judgment, which actually decrease the children’s self-esteem. On the other hand praising children with reason, if done constantly, works like a drug and makes children become addicted, or dependent on the supply of a such praise. It is especially dangerous because it is commonly assumed to be a good parenting tool. When children are constantly praised for their good behavior they get used to pleasing adults to get more praise, they become afraid to do wrong and be deprived of praise. Such children become dependent and easily manipulated by others. Is this how you want your child to grow up to be?
It is possible to teach without teaching. There is upbringing without upbringing. The book Parenting For Everyone investigates the laws of raising children, not difficult children, but ordinary ones. What is possible and impossible in upbringing? What real power do parents have? What results follow from what actions? What are those laws and truths of the science of the art of parenting? One of them is that upbringing must be unnoticeable. If you want to teach somebody how to live do it unnoticeably.
Ideas taken from Parenting For Everyone by Simon Soloveychik, book1 part 1 chapter 3