Whenever I’m called on to give instruction to budding songwriters, we inevitably address the use of cliché. I encourage them to think of a cliché as a missed opportunity to tell the truth – which is a nice way of saying, “Words matter. Don’t be lazy.”
When writing, clichés are often the first phrases that come to mind. Good writers do the work of skipping over those clichés and finding memorable details that capture their audience. As a parent, my audience is often my children, and that same brain work is important when communicating with them.
When a child hands me a blob of unrecognizable scribble and calls it a robot, I can say “That’s nice” or “great job,” and that works fine the first few times. But eventually, kids will hear the laziness behind the words, and they will recognize a hidden meaning: “This is not important to me.” (Which can feel like: “You are not important to me.”)
I don’t necessarily take their “artwork” seriously, but I always try to take my kid seriously. If they are proud, I’m proud too. You can always complement their imagination or the color choice, or, did they work hard on it? If so, it always pays to comment on their effort.
I ran across a great article in Parents Magazine on How To Praise Your Kids that addresses that in some detail. I really like a lot of this stuff… How To Praise Your Kids.
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