Wednesday, October 28

praise

I once belonged to a parenting forum that I left because of the extreme beliefs expounded there. One experience was in a discussion about praise. It was very much an anti-praise group. A mother was telling a story about what she saw in a store. A child had picked up a jar and placed it in the trolley, and his mother said to him, "Good job!".
The reaction from the forum parent was - poor kid. How sorry she felt for that child who was not valued.

I was like, give me a break! You feel sorry for the child that is being repeatedly beaten, the child who is neglected... not the child who is being praised. This superior and extremist parenting attitude drives me up the wall.

Anyway, my point is that although we discover that certain approaches in parenting are more helpful than others, this doesn't mean that we are 'bad' parents or are irreparably damaging our children.

So here's my take on the praise issue.

Praise is lovely. It's one of many social tools we use to form connections with others. If we absolutely 100% didn't care about what others thought, we would go to work in our comfy pajamas and fart in restaurants.

So why is anyone questioning the act of praising?

Here's the thing, praising a child - just like anything we do to, around, and for, children - will affect that child's perception of the world and of themselves, during the time when they are forming those perceptions. That's what makes it different to praising adults.

So?

Well, you see, praise is connected to value. What we value. And during the formative years - the years we don't separate who we are with what we do - it can become very easily linked to self-value.

In other words, we learn that there is such as thing as 'good'. Then, we learn that what we do is 'good', meaning that we are 'good'.



And all this takes place externally (others teach us what is 'good', what is valued), and is then internalised. So we learn to look to others for how we should behave and what we should achieve, and how we should achieve it.

A neighbour and her daughter (a few weeks difference in age from mine) visited us last week and she was taking up pictures of animals and asking the girls to name them. The mother speaks both English and Serbian. Around here, the equivalent of 'good job' (USA) and 'well done' (UK), is bravo! .

Whenever she exclaimed bravo to her daughter, the girl's eyes lit up. She pleased her mother, and so she felt good about herself. Whenever she said it to my girl, The Wildflower looked at her bemused - she doesn't know that word bravo, nor is she used to such animated responses because she names an animal.

That mother was saying all this out of love and kindness. I know that. She's a lovely woman and a loving mother. She isn't marking her child for therapy.

However, every time that little girl achieved something, she wanted her mother's praise. The Wildflower, reads, names things, draws, stacks blocks, fits puzzle pieces, and so on, without ever looking for praise. In fact, she occassionaly applauds herself.

Every child is different, so every child will be affected differently by praise. I was a praised child. Praised for being well-behaved and praised for achievements, especially academic ones.

It took a ton of inner work to shed the mask of approval-seeking. I can taste the anxiety of rejection in my mouth, like it was yesterday. When someone didn't like me, I was wrought with questioning. Why? WHY? (which on the flip-side is also very self-absorbed - as if other people's choices always have something to do with us).

When I wrote my piece on when I see a mother, I lost over 20 subscribers. You know what I did? I laughed. I found it hilarious. They might have left because they got sick of me droning on about such things or because they misinterpreted my point (which happened with one reader). But it didn't matter, I laughed because my self-worth is no longer dependant on other people's approval.

As I said, every child is different. And every parent, and every parenting. So the final outcome will vary enormously. However, there is one basic outcome that occurs for everyone. When we look for validation of what we do (who we are), we learn to distrust our authentic Self.

A child who is a natural people-pleaser, will choose to do mostly what pleases others. A child who is less so, and who is fiercely independent, might learn to be extremely self-critical (because only a 'good' result matters). Another child, one who is naturally full of pride, will grow apathetic towards anything that isn't appreciated by an audience - helping mama around the house got praise, now I need bribes to clean up my room.



Sometimes the need for praise is so strong, that the getting of that praise is the ultimate and only goal. Like a child who works hard to get the gold star at school, but forgets her work as soon as the star is given. There is no joy in the work, little value in the finished piece - but the star is taken home to gain further praise.

And that leads me to a couple of other aspects.

Process

The process is often overlooked. We, as a society, place so much value in the done, and so little value on the doing.

When the Wildflower was drawing yesterday, I said, 'you're having fun there!' That's what I found wonderful, that she was drawing. Not anything she might complete. And not that it was 'good'. And not that what she was doing was 'good'. But rather, I supported the process, and supported what appeared to be her joy in it.

And at other times, on occassion, the words, 'good stuff!' have escaped my lips. And I shrug and cut myself some slack. It came from love.

This doesn't mean that results aren't important. Of course they are. It's not much good enjoying the process of learning to drive and not caring if you don't pass the test. Life is a balance of required results and just doing, and often, a mixture of both.

Mistakes

The final aspect, is the value of mistakes. When we are focused on outcome and on 'good' work, we are dismissing the learning potential, and the fun, of doing something 'badly'.

Our eyes light up when they say/do something correctly, or when it's completed. How often do they light up during the process? And when they get something 'wrong', how often do we clap our hands and exclaim with a grin, "cool, a chance to experiment!"?

Oh, ok, just remembered, one more point. Criticism.

When we link good work with self-worth, any criticism is taken personally. Of course it would be! We've learnt from our childhood that what we do is one and the same as who we are.

So if someone says, 'hey Mon, the sidebar of your new blog design is all messed up',
My inner ear hears this...
'Hey Mon, the sidebar of your new blog design is all messed up'
Someone who believes their childhood lessons will hear this,
'You're a crap blog designer. You're crap'.

When we do begin to give praise (because it's not about no praise), we don't link the work with the the child. We might think that telling a child that they are a good drawer (an intrinsic value of themselves) is a lovely and supportive thing to say. What happens when they do an incorrect drawing? What happens when their drawing is criticised at school, at college? Or when they don't win any prize? Saying, that's a great drawing is subtle but different. Possibly more supportive, 'you really tried hard with that one', or, 'you really enjoyed that'.

You know, I think that not praising is really, really tough. Not just out of habit, but because so many of us have been brought up to connect love with praise, and oh how much we want to love our children. And so many of us were brought up in oppressive or authoritarian or unplayful households, that we just want to tell our kids how amazing they are.

But I can tell you one thing. I can tell you when I'm most happy. I'm most happy, most at peace, when the choices that other people make or what they say, do not affect how I feel about myself. And that has come about by detaching myself from external praise and criticism, and trusting my inner Self.

I just want to give that gift to my child.

31 comments:

  1. so well written. i also left a forum for what i considered extreme views on this subject - and others. it seemed the participants were living in a bubble.

    i think i'll say "bravo" to Z when he wakes up just to see his reaction!

    i think i tend to communicate with Z in more of a laid back, not quite adult, but almost, style. when others come at him with hyper talk/excessive praise he retreats - or mimics them...which is really hilarious.

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  2. And...have you thought about starting a forum on your blog?

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  3. Is that a gift that is yours to give? I don't think so. All you can do is give her the space to be who she will be.
    I am struggling with the last but one paragraph... I can't believe that if DH expressed some *contrary* views about your parenting that you would be "detached". And if you were, well, phew... don't know what to say about that... I'm really into my inner Self but there are limits. And the Self inside the Mother that you are does not exist in a vacuum that excludes DH. Or does it?
    PS: Still want to know what the FB is that you left by the wayside - ref: my comment to your last Thankful Anyway.

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  4. cypress sun -
    Ah, the retreat. Kids are smart, and ones who haven't been talked down to will be especially wary of adult excess.

    I had a frum in my first Holistic Mama website, that was never used. :D

    Den - "All you can do is give her the space to be who she will be."

    Yes, exactly!! I want to give her the gift of not looking to be anyone else, which excessive praise can cultivate.

    I'm not sure exactly what you're struggling with, so I'll just answer what I think you're asking, lol....

    If DH questioned my parenting I wouldn't be detached. I don't mean that I'm all Zen-like about this. Depending on the topic, how it was expressed, etc, etc, it could potentially be an explosive debate! :)

    But what I mean is that his questioning would not detract from my self-worth. The debate would be about the parenting approach.
    UNLESS, he told me *I* was a bad mother. But then I would see it as HIS problem, to be so awful to say that, and to think like that.

    The important bit, is that I wouldn't believe him AND that I don't need him or anyone else's stamp of approval for my worth as a mother.
    A lot of us mothers do, which is why when our APPROACH is questioned we fall apart.

    It's not about excluding anyone. It's about finding self-worth inside, and going from that first.

    Does that make sense?

    oh, FB is Facebook hun! :)

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  5. Such a thoughtfully written post. Intellectually, I agree with you completely, and I do my best to give positive feedback for process rather than product, etc. But I fall down a lot. I praise all the time, perhaps because there's no one else to give feedback, it all comes from me, so I want my child to feel surrounded by love and acceptance. I know it is not good.

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  6. This post spoke to my inner child most. In parenting, the imprints left behind by our care takers can be difficult to erase or repeat. Personally speaking, detachment is a tough layer to shed....though I am working on it.
    Your writing style and messages keep me on track:).

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  7. This is a very well worded and interesting post.. thought provoking..

    actually you've just helped me to figure out why i feel so uncomfortable in a certain situation that i have to deal with over and over again lol.. these quotes especially have induced a light bulb moment..

    Cyprus sun said - when others come at him with hyper talk/excessive praise he retreats - or mimics them...which is really hilarious.

    Mon said - Ah, the retreat. Kids are smart, and ones who haven't been talked down to will be especially wary of adult excess.

    my partners parents are excessive in their praise of their adult son, and myself on occasions.. however while my partner doesnt mind i feel uncomfortable to the point of anxiety .. physical nausea.. i never understood why i felt like this cos they are not being unkind.. i'm aware that they were critisised a lot while growing up and so have gone to the extreme opposite with their children, and it's meant lovingly. So why did i feel so uncomfortable with it.. the above comments have hit the nail on the head for me i think.. in that i'm actually geting a sense of them feeling that while i may not be good enough in their eyes(to their standards) they will try to make me feel better about myself.. when in fact my self is fine.. hmmn! am i making sense here or rambling.. lol?! anyway thankyou!

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  8. sarah - do you believe that she could be her own feedbacker? (it's a word now)

    Carla - actually, there isn't much that I ponder or blog about re parenting that doesn't make me consider my own inner child.

    Anon - do you believe they actually think of you as not good enough?
    If so, then excessive praise does often mask people's true feelings.
    Of course, it could just be as you mention, them overcompensating for their own childhood lack.

    But you raise a really interesting aspect. As adults we would feel really weirded out if someone kept telling us we did a 'good job!', especially if we believed we were fine. We are suspicious of that praise.
    And I tell you what, as a tutor (English lit), I saw a LOT of kids wary of excessive praise.
    So either a kid is going to rely on praise, or be suspicious of it. :)

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  9. Ah...such wonderfulness here....

    People-pleaser - check! It was a natural inclination as an HSC, further compounded by the fact there was A LOT of conditionality attached to praise/attention/love (or at least, my child's eye perception..not sure if it was intentional or not). So yeah, I learned to jump through the hoops for the gold star with no care for the process. Just wanted the fastest, easiest way to do it *right*. And if I couldn't do it *right* (to earn the praise, reward, love) then I wasn't going to do it. Still workin' on that....;)

    I do agree that it depends entirely on the temperament of the child. Savannah is a child that needs a lot of encouragement as she works through something -- but I'm very aware that I have to be careful *what* I say....if she's drawing or crafting something I'll comment on her colour choice or her particular slant rather than what it turns out like. I focus a lot on helping her see the value of something not turning out the way she wanted it -- enjoying the opportunity of a *happy accident*. And these are all things I struggled with so we're learning it together.

    I will occasionally slip with the 'good job'...but am mostly in the habit, especially with Sebastian of exclaiming "You did it!" or just an "Awesome!" (which is sort of praise, I suppose). He, himself, is fond of telling me "Nice work"...not sure where he got that from..a Go Diego Go computer game, I think...;)

    *chuckle* just reading that 'no comment is too long around here'....good thing!

    I am so stunned at the fact you lost 20 people over that post....how very strange....

    And finally..I've also left an assortment of parenting groups/lists over rigidity and militance (sp?) in belief systems...too easy for this 'gotta-get-it-right-er' to get bogged down with the details...;)

    Okay, almost done..I'm remembering the look of bemusement on Savannah's face when my m-i-l went into (well-intentioned) paroxysms over a painting she'd done.."Why did Grandma get all silly? It's JUST a painting..." *grin*

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  10. When you said this: "As adults we would feel really weirded out if someone kept telling us we did a 'good job!', especially if we believed we were fine. We are suspicious of that praise." It reminded me of a new boss I had when I had been at the job for years and had actually been a candidate for HER job, but turned it down. So when she went about telling me "Good job!" for stupid stuff, I couldn't even pretend that it meant something to me. I found it insulting and told her so.

    And yet, I love praise when I think it is merited. I'm getting closer and closer to simply enjoying merited praise, but not NEEDING it. And I don't need it when I feel confident, so I guess I am saying that I am getting more and more confident. So I wonder if too much praise undermines the confidence of children. I think it does. They learn to feed off of it.

    Recently DH started saying "Good boy!" to our son a lot (right after we had a discussion about how I don't like this). I'm worried that if I don't intervene it might evolve to our son feeling like he has to please his father in order to gain his approval and love?

    Now what I do, is I smile a lot. If Michael is working on something and notices me looking at him, I just smile and he smiles back. If he is pleased at something he does, I don't praise him, but sometimes we share a laugh or I occasionally make a comment like, "Look what you did!" I try not to make a big deal out of it though. I do say thank you to him when he does something for me. I realize that I am reinforcing what I want him to do, and I really hope that saying "Thank you" is better than saying "Good job!" If something he does is especially hard and he finally gets it, I might say "There you go!" It's hard not to say anything, and I do believe an interaction is appropriate at times.

    Anyway, I cannot believe you lost subscribers over that post! What???

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  11. Great thoughts Mon! I have struggled for years and to some extent still do with the judgement I "think" I get from others...A real people pleaser to the detriment of my own happiness and personal growth, that WAS me!

    I really would like to avoid passing this little gem onto my little one and I think that is what conscious parenting is all about but it is a process and I think it is important not to make this yet another thing we can flog ourselves for.

    It is a journey that we take together with our kids and one which I believe they have chosen :)

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  12. I'm not sure about this whole suspicion of praise thing. I can't help thinking it's all a bit cod-psychology.

    I do agree with the problem of connecting praise to self-worth, and I think that's something I've suffered from. I certainly believe in praising/complaining about the behaviour and not the child and I'm totally with the idea of enjoying/praising the process rather than the outcome. But I am just not convinced that saying "Good job" or "Well done" is going to damage a child. I think this is one of those issues that you just have to use a bit of common-sense with rather than slavishly following some arbitrary rule about not using praise.

    Once again a really interesting post Mon - thanks.

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  13. i hear you mon
    you make some excellent points
    when my kids show me their artwork i do ask them how they felt about making it, how they feel about the piece-but i also share if i like it and why... i do say 'good for you' and i certainly don't cringe when i say that...it does come from love and is authentic in nature so i wouldn't apologize for praising them or think myself doing them an injustice over it... people do things that cause emotion, cause us to 'feel' and i don't think there is anything wrong with letting them know your thoughts... suppressing those thoughts for me would be dishonest ... so, if i love something my kids do (or anyone else for that matter), i'm the mom saying, 'way to go-that's sensational, i really like it!" that way i'm being true to myself, have reinforced the value that my child already knows in his gut to be real for himself and everyone feels happy! i would say that that positively affects someone's self-worth in an affirming way... when i write or take photos, it doesn't matter if anyone else likes it or not, because i like it! i tell my kids if you like something, that's all that matters and you'll know because you can feel it-trust your gut, trust your heart...if you don't, you'll know that too and you are entitled to your opinion as is anyone else-if you practice acceptance of yourself and of others, there is no reason to fear negative ramifications... acceptance is key in my view and allows us to be individuals without apology...

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  14. Mon said -
    Anon - do you believe they actually think of you as not good enough?
    If so, then excessive praise does often mask people's true feelings.
    Of course, it could just be as you mention, them overcompensating for their own childhood lack.

    But you raise a really interesting aspect. As adults we would feel really weirded out if someone kept telling us we did a 'good job!', especially if we believed we were fine. We are suspicious of that praise.
    And I tell you what, as a tutor (English lit), I saw a LOT of kids wary of excessive praise.
    So either a kid is going to rely on praise, or be suspicious of it. :)

    ****

    Looking at this now.. yes I do believe this! But I also believe that its a combination of the two.. its funny isn’t it, i’ve never verbalised this to anyone before now and seeing it along with your reply in black and white has allowed me to look at things with a little more self-honesty. I have no doubt that the intent of their praise is well meant.. is it just what has developed from being a product of conditioning.. of their environment?
    So I guess looking at the whole picture, it’s a combination of all the aspects… *thinking* and perhaps my anxiety comes from feeling patronised by this praise and not expressing that this is how I feel about it.. I need to express… right? lol…….

    Laurie l Goodman - I like what you are saying there… nothing wrong with praise and not expressing it would be dishonest.
    as would, the ‘excessive’ praise.. hence the feeling of suspicion.. sensing the dishonesty! imagining how the children feel… making their way through all this stuff :)

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  15. I'll avoid saying 'bravo' to your post:-)
    Like others, I can't believe you lost subscribers on your When I See a Mother post! To me it seemed to encapsulate your approach and attitude all along!
    The praise issue is a big one for me. I was also very much an achievement oriented child. In general I do try and avoid direct praise with my own, and focus on engagement instead. So if they are drawing for example, I will often ask a question about it, although I also try and avoid 'what are you drawing?' so that it's not too focused on results. So I might say, 'ooh, tell me about what you are coloring' or something open-ended like that to see where it goes.
    I am struggling with the reward/praise system now that my eldest is in public kindergarten and out of Montessori, where they did not focus on 'results' but on letting the kids discover the 'joy of the work.' It is mostly in terms of behavior that I am bothered, the teacher does not do stars and things like that for the work itself, and I am glad about that. But for 'classroom management' she does use a kind of reward/praise system (too long to describe here.) And my daughter has become very focused on it, telling me how she did and how everyone else did each day. So far, I am handling this by talking to her about why the teacher needs to do that in a group environment. Part of the price of making the decision to send her to school. As a being, she is not particularly approval-oriented, although I am not really sure what is just her nature (which is very strong, Scorpio Sun, Leo moon), and what is my parenting. And certainly in terms of learning, she does not orient around doing it for praise at all, she has a very healthy curiosity and is very self-driven in that regard.
    On the other hand, the twins are more approval oriented, and I am trying to figure out why. Is it because there are two of them and they too often have had to compete for attention? Although I try and avoid open praise, have I unwittingly responded more positively to certain activities than others and so they seek that out? Even if we don't praise with words, we can signal approval and disapproval in so many ways. Or are the twins by nature just more prone to seeking approval (Cancer suns, although also Leo moons)?
    My little daughter occasionally breaks my heart this way - she will do something and look up at me with this look that is clearly seeking a positive response and I wonder why. It is something I am really trying to watch with her especially. I think because of her position in the family self-esteem will be at risk with her, with a very outgoing, driven big sister, and then her twin brother the only boy in the family (and my husband's family is all boys, so I think they send a lot of subconscious messages about valuing boys more.)
    Anyway, long comment, lol.
    Overall, I try and relax about all these kinds of things and just do my best, because I do believe on some level that breaking from the identity created by our childhood is just a natural part of growing up and finding ourselves, so within certain limits, whatever I do will be OK. They will have things to work through, and some of those will be because of me, and that is just part of being human. Within certain limits, of course.

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  16. i've been dwelling on the notion that praise is judgement, and that puts it into perspective for me. is my child served by my judging them?

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  17. Wow. This was a very educational post for me. Bravo readers on the thought-provoking, helpful comments :-). I praise. I don't think I praise excessively but I have been known to say, "Great Job!" "Way to go" and all that stuff. Unless I achieved perfection in school work as a child, I got "in trouble". I did it all for my parents' approval back then. I don't want my son to feel that way and recognize that I have to make some changes. What this post has taught me is to focus more on the process rather than simply the results. Thank you Mon and Team Mon xoxo

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  18. As a new mommy I am open to all ideas about parenting. Anyone who gets offended or angry about a post seems silly to me. I think it is wonderful that we all have different thoughts about parenting our children. Our job as parents is to gather as much information as possible, utilize what we find helpful and keep the remainder stored in a space somewhere in the backs of our minds-just in case. Those who have left your blog have simply deprived themselves of a thoughtful exchange of ideas among other mothers. It only deprives their children in the end.

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  19. Great post. I often spend quite a lot of time on thinking about the whole praise thing. I want to raise my children to do things that make them happy not to do things that make me happy. It's amazing how much you learn about yourself when you're conscious of how you're speaking to your children.

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  20. funny. i had a similar exprience. just had to leave the forum. it was all so silly to be so extreme. everything in moderation.

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  21. Mon said: The important bit, is that I wouldn't believe him

    THIS is what I'm struggling with. The 'balance' between on the one-hand being SO internally referenced (counselling term, excuse me) that one's self-worth prevents us (mothers, people - I'm generalising) from believing important feedback and on the other hand being so externally-referenced that we don't make a move without other's 'approval'.

    Hey ho! Me & my journey...

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  22. Whew...having grown up in a household where I was constantly criticized, I have done some work around this and have some conclusions. First of all, most of the time, judgement is correlated with criticism, I prefer discernment, which is closer to what you want to do anyway. Second of all, I do praise my child and sometimes my students. Lots of times i begin sentences with "I see...you used lots of red in this picture!" but I say it warmly and with loving intent. I think that is what the child picks up on...the intention. Most praise or criticism is, consciously or unconsciously, aimed at producing a desired behavior, in other words, manipulating our child. We *need* to manipulate our child's behavior, and balance that with giving them a healthy inner "track" that they can play for the rest of their lives. I am always striving, and hoping, that my child comes away with the sense that she is capable of doing things for herself, that she contributes positively to our family, and that she is worthy in the larger sense.
    And as for me, I think as a Cancer and a sanguine and someone who has been highly sensitized to criticism, I will always struggle with tempering my need for approval and praise.
    I do think we all need that. In Women Who Run With the Wolves, the author talks about people who are "suns" to you...people who offer warmth and love and honesty in their feedback to you...that help you stretch and grow, without withholding their love (again, back to the intention with which we say anything to each other).
    Whew...you opened the proverbial can of worms for me...sorry to be so long-winded!

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  23. Wow, this is such a timely post for me right now due to my own current inner work. Synchronicity works again! :)

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  24. Den - ok, I see what you're getting at. No way enough space to get into all that here.

    But, what I mean by not believing him, is not believing that I was a crap mother or some other such judgement on my value as a person.*
    If we are discussing an approach in parenting, then I listen. OR, if we are discussing something about me as a person, I also listen.

    Detachment as I use it here isn't about not listening to others, about not taking in feedback. It's about not connecting judgement to self-worth.

    Like my silly example of someone giving me feedback on my website. I listen, and fix it. I don't make it something about me as a person. AND, if it's a subjective thing - like someone not liking my background colour, I take it on board, but ultimately look within first (not trying to please for approval).

    * note to readers: Husband has never said such a thing, he's very supportive, we are using this as an example. Just in case....

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  25. Angie - thankyou so much for the thoughtful response.

    You said: "Most praise or criticism is, consciously or unconsciously, aimed at producing a desired behavior, in other words, manipulating our child."

    Yes, I hesitated to use this phrasing in my post because it's a tough issue for many of us parents to deal get our heads around. I don't want to add to the guilt! lol

    Manipulation can sound really horrible, but it's not always. Like making a big deal when they go in the potty because we want to manipulate them to do it again. Or like when I smile and say good things to encourage my anti-food daughter to eat another bite.
    It's just about whether we want our parenting to be highlighted with that approach.

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  26. Oh the praise thing!

    Praising can also talk kids out of their feelings, you know? Like in how we put our own judgments onto our kids about what they are from what they've done or will do and therefore inadvertently controlling their view on the situation iykwim and I find this is a real block to communication.

    We work on praising authenticity, and what we authentically like about what they are doing. I suppose it's not even praise but feedback in the form of acknowledgment. This way it gives them information about their attainments and celebrates their achievements without judging them, which praise can tend to do. So I suppose I like to consider the difference between praise and acknowledgement. The latter being more conducive to giving constructive, honest and real feedback.
    "Good job" has escaped my lips plenty of times, and I don't feel bad for it at all because I'm genuinely pleased! I suppose I could re-phrase it as, "I so appreciate your great help, thanks a lot" or something like that - that is quite an extreme response from anti praise mamas and papas in response to good job, and um YES, child abuse is child abuse and neglect etc, not praise!! Far out, get some perspective I would have said!
    And very funny you lost readers...who knows why eh! Just can't assume... and you don't even need to if like you said, your self worth is not based on anyone else's behaviours.
    I can joke with T and C about "good boy" and "good girl", it's hard to explain but it's funny.
    We so live in a society of praise, or that merit and getting ahead is based on praise of outcome NOT process, process is the important part of course I'm glad you mentioned it. How people get ahead in academia, or pay rise, or promotion, etc,etc... or how people 'make it' or the common notion of what "success" is in the world. It's all so based on outcomes and this is what generates praise and success doesn't it. Outcomes more potentially related to ego too, whereas I see process as more of the selfless part.

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  27. ps, I have so much more to say about this, can't possibly write it all here...so much more about outcomes and process too that I was mulling over after reading your post...There are many times where I can appreciate and admire one's process, but ultimately it's the outcome that does matter - for the spectator especially...like your beautiful crochet craftwork for example, or any other great art work etc...(although I'm in awe when I see those wee snippets of it in the process down that side panel)...the philosophy of subjective/objective...blah blah blah
    Ok, enough of the tangent. :)

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  28. Btw, love that wee video up there - so funny, thanks for posting it. Will go see more of his clips.

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  29. Hey, I did just have a look at more Louis C.K, and about 2/3 way through this clip, he has some funny things to say about parenting and judgments, this is relevant to this post!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4u2ZsoYWwJA&feature=related

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  30. Thank you, Mon.

    Praise is such a touchy issue with some parents. My sister came to visit and started praising my daughter for twirling. TWIRLING. "I like to praise them," she said. "It makes them try harder."

    My daughter didn't stop twirling - or asking how much I liked her twirling - for thirty minutes. And she was a praise junkie for the next three weeks. Drove me nuts.

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  31. oy. i wish i had the time to read all the comments.

    the whole praise issue is something i go back and forth on constantly. i personally rarely like being praised for something. it makes me uncomfortable, puts a spotlight on me, unless it's done in an authentic way. i've especially always hated being praised for things i have little control over, like my looks or my body type. what do you say to something like that? um. thanks?

    i groan when i hear things like "good sitting". wth? but i suppose if it's between "good sitting" and some type of nagging or criticism (which, sadly, i hear much more of these days) i'll take the former. but the truth is it's still inauthentic. they're not sharing REAL joy or interest with their child. they're just spurting out meaningless drivel to occupy their day together. no connection. no real conversation. gah!

    zeb is such a sensitive person; he takes any praise or (what he perceives as) criticism straight to heart and it affects him deeply in future circumstances. keeping things connected and authentic gives him much more esteem and foundation on which to grow than do any blah blah blahing i could give. but he still gets haunted by old school ghosts on occasion that tell him the absence of verbal cookies means something is wrong. and it's still tempting to dole it out when he's feeling low about himself, regardless of the cycle it perpetuates.

    and then there is the matter of different people internalizing differently and knowing what is best for *him* versus my own interpretation of things.

    :sigh: mindless parenting is so much easier. ;)

    ~Tara

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