Making praise work:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Children are motivated by parental acceptance and approval which has been linked with good self-esteem. The most common way of displaying our acceptance and approval is through praise. Praise and encouragement often leads to more positive behaviour and in this article explores how to avoid the pitfalls of too much praise.

Make praise specific: Does your child know how they have pleased you? Try to notice specific improvements your child is making and comment on those, focus on what or how they have done something. Instead of saying a broad statement like “ good job” elaborate by saying what you noticed “I noticed how you shared your toys today with _____________” “you got dressed all by yourself – that’s great”.

Provide praise that encourages the potential for the child to talk about the experience of what they have done “You looked so happy when you were dancing on the stage” this allows them to think about their feelings and analyse their own efforts.

Also being aware that some children don’t like praise to be given publicly, so if you have a child who is more gentle in nature or quiet, he/she may benefit from more individual praise.

If your child is constantly looking for your approval, acknowledgement or praise for everything they do, make or create - here are some strategies to allow children to develop their self-acknowledgement skills:

Try to lead into the praise with a question: This will hopefully get them to think more consciously, for themselves, about what they have achieved and give you an idea of what to praise them for if it is appropriate. Your child calls you to see what they have created - You reply
“Oh I see you’ve built ______________ out of lego, what do you like most about it?” “Which part of your picture do you like best?”

Help children to develop their own sense of satisfaction and self-acknowledgement, hopefully they can draw on that experience in the future when faced with the same situation. “How did it feel when you did that?”

Comments are always welcome so leave them here.

Learning at home... Rethinking Praise...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yesterday my son, on the way to school, was talking about a boy in his class and my son made the statement that “M* in my class is really smart”. Interesting my son doesn’t use the word “smart” but I asked him “what makes M* smart?” and my son replied, “because he says he is. Oh and he can do his times tables really fast.”

I took a deep breath as I realised what my son lacks is the belief in himself . He is popular, friendly has a great sense of humour and doesn’t have a bad self esteem or lack confidence but – he doesn’t believe in himself. I have done everything I have been told to do, praise him when he does something good, encourage his strengths, commend him when he is proud of something he has made or wants to show me, but what I have not seen, until now, is how this has limited his overall belief in himself.

Perhaps it is not enough to stay focused on what my child can do and rather I should be broadening the scope of praise. Obviously this other child’s parent’s have their child believing that he is smart while my son knows what his limitations are and despite his capability - will this limit his overall expectations of himself? I don’t think he is going to be able to expect more of himself if I cannot get him to believe he “can” in all things.

In my attempts to make my son ‘well rounded’ and wanting to motivate my child in areas that aren’t quite his natural ability- does this make him feel stupid? Does this make him feel inferior?

I was touched by this quote, found on a friend’s page yesterday and given the discussion I had had with my son earlier in the day it seemed to all make sense. ‎"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."-Albert Einstein.

So, I’ll be changing the way I speak to my son for a while and perhaps permanently – I will start to praise him for who he is, I will find words that give him more ‘power’. I’m starting to think that perhaps individual praise for only certain things is too limiting. Should we be praising the ‘whole’ child? Perhaps praising is incorrect- perhaps it should just be believing in what you want to see and allowing them (our children) the opportunity to believe it too.

Imagination and language are powerful human resources. May these resources not be limited by our capacities to believe in ourselves.

Changing... Adapting...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Change happens, sometimes we have a choice and we choose to make change happen and sometimes change is somewhat ‘forced’ upon us.
We have three choices, deny it, resist it or go with it - with the eventual result being to adapt to it.

A few things to remember about change and adapting to change is that we will all handle change differently. Some of us will be able to go with the flow, others of us may wait and watch while the change happens. Some of us want to be involved in the change and try to organise how the change will happen and plan for the change. Others once again may feel the stress of the change and it may ‘numb’ us into doing nothing. All these are our ways of dealing with change. None of these responses are wrong – they are individual.

If you are considering change or considering changing something, there is only one thing that assists in our adapting to change and that is consciously making the decision. If you are ambivalent about the change, then it will hinder the ‘adapting’. If the change is forced on you, then attempt to ‘own’ it, you may be resistant at first but by opening yourself to the change you can plan and be involved in the change, thus strengthening yourself and allowing yourself the opportunity for growth.

Most people can look back over the years and identify a time and place at which their lives changed significantly. Whether by accident or design, these are the moments when, because of a readiness within us and a collaboration with events occurring around us, we are forced to seriously reappraise ourselves and the conditions under which we live and to make certain choices that will affect the rest of our lives. - Frederick F. Flack

The Rollercoaster

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Life with children is like a rollercoaster ride, once we decide to have children, we need to buckle ourselves in and depending on what you think of rollercoasters –go with it, , enjoy it or scream through it.
Some days with my children, the rollercoaster is a gentle ride , other days I’m pulled from side to side and sometimes it’s like I’m pushed to the edge and higher and higher waiting for the downhill rush.
There are emotions that come with being on a rollercoaster, fear, excitement, sometimes relief and sometimes joy, the feeling when it’s over that “oh, that wasn’t so bad” and sometimes we even choose “let’s do it again”.
What part of the rollercoaster are you on? Rollercoaster rides are exciting and thrilling, scary and sometimes after a full day it can be tiring but life would be boring without them!

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