In Family Cirlcle, January 2014’s edition you will find the article pictured above. Written by Elizabeth F. Larsen, this article helped further open an inner dialogue I have been having with myself. More of a tug-o-war! She talks about 5 chosen “pointers” from experts on the “right” way to praise your child.
1. Giving an “A” for trying. Recognize and reward effort.
2. Think DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS. Be very clear about how and why they did something good.
3. Sincerity counts. Kids will know when you are disingenuous. Be sincere.
4. Applaud true accomplishments. You don’t have to praise everything a child does, especially ordinary responsibilities.
5. Silence is Golden. Sometimes withholding compliments is effective.
For further details, I recommend you read the full article.
As a psychology major, of yesteryear, I still love the power of the human mind. What makes us tick, so to speak. Not too long ago, I heard my sister in law describe one of her two children as a “carrot kid”. Dangle a reward in front of him and you will see results. I, in fact, have two of those, my 12 year old son and 3 year old son. My daughters are polar opposites. The 14 year old is self driven. She pushes herself to the extreme. Starts projects early, adds to them, betters them. Straight A student. Type A personality. Overachiever. Typical first born, if you follow that rule of thought. My 15 is much like her daddy and even much like I was. As her step-mother I’m blessed to relate to her, understand her. She isn’t a “carrot” kid. She isn’t a type A. The oldest in this family. The youngest in her other. Her daddy is a middle child. I’m the oldest of blended families. Praise didn’t work for me, rewards either, keeping quiet didn’t matter, chewing me out didn’t work, taking things away didn’t work either. What worked for me was me. What worked for handsome hubby was him. What works for her is her. When she sets her mind to do something, like we did, she does it. Fear of loss or anticipation of reward doesn’t really come into play. The big picture does.
So what’s the point?
My point is, as parents we do the best we can to raise our kids to the best of our ability. We know our kids better than anyone. Experts can give us information all day long but the true experts lie within us. Truth be told, our kids are miniatures versions of us. We know what we need. Therefore, we know what they need. As we grew our needs and ways changed as do theirs.
For example, our oldest son loves to know his effort was appreciated but can’t stand when you thank him for taking out the garbage. My husband thanks me everyday for coming home to a clean house and a home cooked meal. I don’t take it the wrong way. I know he appreciates it but my goodness, it’s my job. I thank him as well for doing his.
I see straight A’s across the board on our 14 year old and 12 year olds schools online grade book. There’s no way I say good job to that daily. But they know I look. The expectation isn’t there for me to say congrats. Their expectation from me is to see where they need help and step in. That what I do. Catch them before they fall. The 14 doesn’t depend on this. However, the 12 year old does. It’s ok. We roll with it.
Praise is as simple or complex as we
chose it to be. Straight A report cards used to get a Facebook shout out or Instagram. Not anymore. Being off of social media has changed that. They get good ole fashioned texts now to family members.
Daily praise is as necessary and depends on the person. At 3, praise goes a long way. My 15 year old loves praise for helping around the house and the 14 year old is like “whatever, it needs to be done anyway”. The 12 year old is still fighting not to do the work when the work is done usually.
So with this ramble I leave you with less of a sense of how and when to praise and possibly more of a sense of confusion about praise.
My thoughts again, do what works for you, for each child, on any given day because goodness knows it changes!
What do you think?