To Cover or Not to Cover

Today’s post is certainly about life stuff, especially if you are a parent, but simple, it is not.  Or at least it is not simple to this mama who OVER analyzes everything.  Let me give you a little a lot of background.

N has a weather project due for his 2nd grade class on Thursday.  He has to display the information and give a presentation.  He chose hurricanes.  He could not wait to get started.  He worked on this project for several days with the guidance of his “project loving” dad.  He taught N the finer points of how to do all the prep work.  Of course, the whole time, N just wanted to get to the creative part.  The hubs taught N how to gather and write down information from his sources (books and the web).  He then proceeded to instruct him on how to write the information on its own Post- it.  N then placed the Post-its on the wall in the order in which he thought made the most sense.

So far, so good.  To make a somewhat long story short, we printed out photos to place on the display board.  I typed the information N wanted to go along with his pictures on the board based on the now infamous Post-it notes.  We organized the pictures and information, and we glued.  N is still excited at this point.

Then last night, it is time for N to use his oil pastels to put the title at the top of the display board (Hurricanes:  Wild Waves and Wicked Winds).  Great title, yes?  I leave him to his own devices because after all, it is HIS project.  OK, here is where we are now:

Of course, as a perfectionist, my brain is, “What the Hell?  The word Hurricanes should take front stage.”  “Why is Hurricanes just crammed on there and bleeding over into your typed text?”  “Why is it not capitalized?”  As a parent, I take a deep breath and I tell him that, “I really like the big, blocked letters, and the colors and that the title is perfect.”  Then, I have to be honest with him and give him the dreaded BUT, “Honey, the word hurricanes should have been first and the biggest word.”  “After all, your whole project is about hurricanes.”  He agreed with me, but got that discouraged look on his face and professed that he no longer was excited about the project because he messed it up.  My brain starts churning and my heart hurts just a bit.

This project reminds me of something I grapple with daily.  To praise no matter what or tell the truth?   Child Psychologists tell us to praise, praise, praise or kids will be discouraged, depressed, feel like a failure, scared to try new things, have low self-esteem.  But what about honesty and teaching life lessons?  We don’t always get it right the first time.  If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right.  No one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes.  We just try very hard not to make the same mistake twice.  If we don’t teach them these lessons, life will slap them in the face one day.

Do you always praise your child to boost their egos and self-esteem and to keep them motivated and willing to take chances?  Do you give them the praise even though they haven’t earned it?  Or do you teach them important life lessons and tell them the truth?  As a parent, I would like to strike a balance.

So, do I cover part of the title, the messed up part,  with white paper and have him try again, or not cover it and leave it alone?