How Should I Compliment my Kid about his Recovery?

What You Should Still Expect About Parenting a Teenage Boy in Recovery

What are we supposed to say, as parents, to our adolescents and teenagers who are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction to let them know what a great job they are doing? Some of us might start with just that sentiment, you’re doing a great job. Some of us might go for the trophy statement, you’re so fantastic! While others of us opt for pragmatism, you’ve worked really hard. Each statement has a context and connotation shaped by societal norms and standards. Giving your child an encouraging compliment shouldn’t be complicated. However, not all compliments are created equal. The way we encourage and acknowledge our children’s efforts in recovery could directly influence the way they continue to recover.

In her book Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck discusses a study involving two groups of fifth graders and testing. Each group took a first test, then took more tests after receiving different kinds of praise. One group received the “You must be smart” category of accolade. The other group received the “You must have worked hard” accolade, according to Growing Leaders. For the second test after receiving the compliments, the groups were informed that it would be harder. Additionally, the students were given an option not to take the test. An astounding majority of the group of students who received the “You must be smart” praise chose not to take the test. The group who received the “You must have worked hard” praise mostly chose to take the test and demonstrate verbal acknowledgment of enjoying the challenge. A final test was administered. Of the group that was told they were smart, the results were poor. On the other hand, the group who was told they worked hard performed 30% better. The study found that the group told “you must be smart” feared not living up to the comment.

Dweck believes that the way we provide affirmations to children influences them. Specifically, she feels that affirmations should hone in on what our children are able to control. “When we praise smarts, it may provide a little confidence at first but ultimately causes a child to work less,” Growing Leaders founder Tim Elmore writes. Providing affirmations focused on effort “…tends to elicit more effort.”

Recovery is hard-work. Every day, your adolescent or teen is working hard to create and sustain an entirely new way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and decision-making. It is true that your child is fantastic, wonderful, and spectacular. What your child puts into recovery is what they will get out of recovery. Choose affirmation statements that will encourage your child to keep doing the work in order to keep their sobriety maintained.

Your child deserves the best when it comes to residential treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Call Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center today for information on our residential treatment programs for adolescent and teenage boys: 662-598-4214

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