you’re so smart

October 16, 2009 at 4:00 pm 1 comment

Natalie I found it so interesting to watch you with Echo. Typically, after an event like that, I expect people to heap praise onto a child. But, by doing that I understand that you’re beginning a lifetime of the good/bad – praise/punish cycle. As a child I did not respond well to that model. So I’m curious as to what it looks like to not do that.

But, as I watched Echo write her name i got really excited…I could easily imagine myself saying things like “Oh look at you, you’re so smart…so good, blah, blah.” So, my question to you is: Do you have to fight an urge to say things like that?

The answer is yes, sort of. I was really excited when Echo wrote her name. I was fairly bursting inside, but I did not want to influence Echo’s experience with my own value judgments of good or bad, smart, or not, etc. I use her feelings as my model. In this case she was almost blase so I remained pretty neutral. (If she had been ecstatic I would have jumped up and down with her.)

Real life examples are:

“Oh wow! You are jumping!” not “Good jumping Echo!”

“Oh yah, I see it. How do you like it?” not “Great drawing! You are such a good artist!”

“I see you!” not “Good job!”

Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn is the perfect read if you are looking to get out of the praise/punishment cycle that I think most of us suffered from in our childhood. I think the effect of praise, in particular, during my childhood still continues to affect me negatively today. It’s such a mind bender because it seems like a wonderful thing to let your kid know that you are proud, or that you think they did a good job. We have found though, through research and experience, that the best way to stifle a child’s natural interest is to praise them. Start with Kohn’s book, it is essential, in my opinion.

Also visit the Natural Parenting Center for more examples of neutrality and using unconditional parenting in real life.

Thanks Alyssa!


Entry filed under: discipline, parenting principles. Tags: , , , .

a little ho hum, a little blah, and a dash of magic empathy delivery

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Alyssa  |  October 18, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Thank you Natalie! I look forward to reading your recommendations,


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