Thursday, March 10, 2011

Parenting Quick Challenge: Don't Praise

I know you read the title of this post and think I'm crazy. I'm not. Keep reading.

Have you ever noticed that when you give your child an accolade ('Good job!" on a piece of artwork, for example), it shuts the conversation down? You haven't? Oh, well it does. Think of it like two adults talking:

Adult 1: "Your outfit looks great today!"

Adult 2: "Thanks!"

Okay...now it's up to Adult 1 to keep the conversation going, otherwise it's pretty much over. It's the same with children. But what if, instead of praising or giving a compliment, you just *notice* something instead?

Adult 1: "I noticed your new haircut yesterday! What made you opt for the change?"

Adult 2: "Oh thanks for noticing! I was just ready for something different and easier to manage."

Adult 1: "I totally understand- I've been ready for a change too. Who do you go to?"


See how it can turn into a whole conversation?

It's the same with children. Instead of just a simple 'Good job' or 'nice work,' try noticing something specific. It will turn short conversations into chances for you to get to know your child in ways you didn't before. This builds self-esteem and self-confidence in your child and let her know that you are taking notice of what she's doing.

Instead of:

"Good job at soccer," try "Wow, you were running like I've never seen before!!"

"Nice artwork," try "How did you decide on these different colors?"

Here's the challenge: When you are about to praise your child today, stop. Notice something instead. Turn it into a conversation. 

Want to read more about noticing instead of praising? Grab a copy of Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting.


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