Thursday, April 25, 2013

Praising the child

"Kind words can be powerful motivators, but only if you praise the right things. Praising someone's ability to work hard is more effective than gushing about how brilliant she is...Being praised for effort or other aspects of performance directly under your control leads to resilience, while being praised for being smart or some other innate abilities can lead to feelings of helplessness or self-doubt when a setback occurs. The ideal is to help someone think positively but realistically about achieving goals while praising their hard work. When praised for persistence, those who think the path ahead will be difficult invest more effort." 
- Heidi Grant Halvorson in Psychology Today (March 2013) 

As a parent I will need to remind myself of this.  I don't believe it is actually that pertinent in early childhood but I can see how being praised for effort during grade school years could be a positive motivator.  As I child, I was rarely praised (because my efforts did not produce "A"s) so in being praised only for attaining the highest grade possible and not achieving, I then began to not achieve anything at all.

Of course, as a parent now I definitely try to conduct myself in a manner opposite of my own parents. I think everyone tends to do that, right?  Unless you grew up with the most awesome parents, which I definitely know friends that had that. But generally, we try to undo what we experienced as children as we parent our own kids.  I am much more about positive words as opposed to negative words. I will never describe D as lazy or stupid...I find those words unkind and unnecessary. I do know that I have moments where I am so irritated by my D's behavior that I will blurt out, "Well, if you would stop being bratty..!" Well, that is not kind either and very childish as a mother.  And I'm thankful that I have a husband that will remind me that I shouldn't speak that way.  I work hard not to lose my cool...

Now back to the statement above.  It makes so much sense but I can't even see how I'd apply it.  Is it something like, child comes into room with a painting and instead of saying, "Wow, that's a lovely painting." we say instead, "I see you've put a lot of time and effort into creating that..."  Oh wait, maybe it's more like when a child brings home an A, we say, "That's wonderful!  Your hard work has paid off!"  As opposed to, "Great, see, I knew you were smart."

In any case, I should keep it in mind and in time I'm sure I will be able to see how to implement it.  Or I see more parenting classes in my future.

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