Too much positive feedback? Resources for other ways to build self-esteem. - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 25 Old 01-25-2012, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
anyalily's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Northern California
Posts: 886
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)

I am doing some work on myself which is revealing a heavy reliance on external validation... I see myself trying to boost y daughter's confidence by telling her how great I think she is, like my own mom did for me.

 

I remember some conversations here about alternatives to praise. Can someone please point me to some resources for learning about the different styles? My daughter is 3.5 and is quite amazing, of course. ;) I need some help with language...

 

"You're so great." vs. "I like what you did."???

 

Thanks!


Mama to DD luxlove.gif born June 2008 and Wife to my dear Magyar foreign exchange husband. Expecting again in September!joy.gif 
anyalily is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
#2 of 25 Old 01-25-2012, 04:09 PM
 
mamazee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: US midwest
Posts: 7,246
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

Hmm you can kind of celebrate with them, like "Look at that!" or "you did it!" or "Wow!" That is a way of expressing joy without the evaluation.

 

The idea is that if we just react happily when we feel happy and otherwise stay out of the way, we don't have to "build" their self esteem. They get it from within. The potential problems are supposed to come up when their self esteem comes from outside.

 

I think a better thing than worrying about what to say is to provide them with opportunities to find things they're internally proud to do. My daughter loves music so she's in a musical group, and gets a great deal of pride and self esteem from that. I don't praise her on her music at all that I can think of, and probably even rarely even comment on it except to say, "Oh, I liked that song" occasionally if I hear a song I like. I don't usually comment at all. I might ask questions if I wonder about something.

 

If you want resources, google "Alfie Kohn." At the end of this article, he has a few suggestions.

mamazee is offline  
#3 of 25 Old 01-25-2012, 06:28 PM
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 111
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

.

ChitownTracy is offline  
#4 of 25 Old 01-25-2012, 06:54 PM
 
KathrynH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Arkansas
Posts: 82
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

One of my favorite books is How ot Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk. (I've actually taught a class on it.) There are a couple of wonderful chapters about praise. The book  has exercises to help you figure out how to better handle real-life situations. It focuses a lot on giving specific comments that might not feel like praise to you, but are much more helpful to a child than, "Good job!" I highly recommend it. It reads a little hokey at first, but I use it with kids every day, and I don't have time for strategies that don't work!

 

Another great idea is to give children responsibilities. I am an elementary teacher and I see this work wonders for building self-esteem. Ask your daughter to set the table, put water in the dog's bowl, or dust the coffee table - without assistance from you. This shows your child she can contribute to the household in a way outside herself (i.e., not just picking up her own messes or brushing her teeth). You can sit on the sidelines and cheer, "You can do it!" all day, but giving a child responsibilities and then backing away helps her learn "I can do it!" 

KathrynH is offline  
#5 of 25 Old 01-25-2012, 11:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
anyalily's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Northern California
Posts: 886
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)

Thanks everyone! Great ideas. I will dig in and give it some consideration.


Mama to DD luxlove.gif born June 2008 and Wife to my dear Magyar foreign exchange husband. Expecting again in September!joy.gif 
anyalily is offline  
#6 of 25 Old 01-26-2012, 11:56 AM
 
jbaruta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 10
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

this is a really interesting article (example) of praise vs. encouragement.http://www.noogenesis.com/malama/encouragement.html 

 

Basically, a child doing something well, or being talented does not make them a "good" child. "Wow, good girl! That is awesome!" Instead, encourage the activity "Oh Susie, you obviously enjoy painting, you are doing very well at it!" 

jbaruta is offline  
#7 of 25 Old 01-26-2012, 01:28 PM
 
journeymom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Having a Gilly Water with McGonagall
Posts: 7,417
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)

How Not to Talk to Your Kids  http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/

 

The Effort Effect  http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2007/marapr/features/dweck.html

 

Both of these articles really changed my perspective.  I wish I'd read them when my kids were little! 


Someone moved my effing cheese.
journeymom is offline  
#8 of 25 Old 01-26-2012, 03:51 PM
 
LynnS6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pacific NW longing for the Midwest
Posts: 12,446
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

This article by Alfie Kohn is also really good: Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!" http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/gj.htm

 

The basic point is be specific and sincere.


Lynnteapot2.GIF, academicreading.gif,geek.gif wife, WOHM  to T jog.gif(4/01) and M whistling.gif (5/04)
LynnS6 is offline  
#9 of 25 Old 01-27-2012, 06:12 PM
 
csprunger's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 14
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

A few folks have mentioned Alfie Kohn.  My son's former montessori teacher heard him speak at Xavier University last year.  He is a bit extreme sometimes in thinking absolutely no compliments/positive reinforcement is recommended.  However, I found the book "Unconditional Parenting" interesting in that it made me think about how I talk to my children.

 

I also volunteered in the classroom and found it interesting to "relearn" how to talk to children.  The focus is often on stating facts, "you read the book", "I see that you counted to 10" etc without putting a judgment (positive or negative) on the action.  It has helped me with interacting with my own children.  They are able to "own" their successes without being dependent on my delight for motivation.

 

Hope that helps!

 

 

csprunger is offline  
#10 of 25 Old 01-28-2012, 08:43 AM
 
bodhitree's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: where the mountains meet the plains
Posts: 904
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KathrynH View Post

Another great idea is to give children responsibilities. I am an elementary teacher and I see this work wonders for building self-esteem. Ask your daughter to set the table, put water in the dog's bowl, or dust the coffee table - without assistance from you. This shows your child she can contribute to the household in a way outside herself (i.e., not just picking up her own messes or brushing her teeth). You can sit on the sidelines and cheer, "You can do it!" all day, but giving a child responsibilities and then backing away helps her learn "I can do it!" 


I think this is key. Self-esteem can not be built from the outside. A person acquires self-esteem by consistently doing things that are worthy of esteem, such as following through on responsibilities, learning new skills, and being kind. I don't do a lot of praising with my DD, but I do just notice when she does something cool. Like when she tries some difficult new physical task, like climbing something at the playground, I'll say something like, "Wow, you did it! Do you feel proud?" That way I'm acknowledging her achievement and letting her know I think it's cool while still trying to keep the focus on her own pride in her accomplishment.

 


Living the good life and walking a path of peace with DH and DD (4/09)
bodhitree is offline  
#11 of 25 Old 02-02-2012, 10:18 AM
 
Pookietooth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 5,016
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Here are some things that we have found helpful: just saying thank you when they help, noticing that they are putting in a lot of effort (without commenting on the quality of the output), asking what they think of it, and also just being there. I was reading a post the other day that really sounded nice:

http://codenamemama.com/2010/06/02/good-job/

This post was nice too:

http://parentingfromscratch.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/encouraging-things-to-say-to-kids/

This too:

http://www.naturalchild.org/robin_grille/rewards_praise.html


Jen 47 DS C 2/03  angel.gif04/29/08/ DD S 10/28/09 DH Bill '97.

mighty-mama and her sister Kundalini-Mamacandle.gif

Pookietooth is offline  
#12 of 25 Old 02-02-2012, 11:22 AM
 
porcelina's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 1,340
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Interestingly, there has been research showing that excessive praise (of the general, "you're great" kind) actually is associated with giving up earlier and not trying ones best (see Nurture Shock). I also recommend to How to Talk so Kids will Listen. The idea is to be descriptive, "You did it! You built the tower!", "I see blue circles, can you tell me about this?", "You climbed to the top by yourself!" Do NOT judge. Another book put it this way: Your description should be like a photograph. If you are adding any judgements, then it could not be captured by a photograph. You can also give positive for the process rather than just the outcome, "you kept trying and did not give up", "you gave it your best effort," "you kept putting the blocks on the top even though it was frustrating".

 

So, you don't want to say, "you're great" or "I like what you did," because with "you're great," they don't know what specific actions make them "great," and with "I like what you did," they start to believe they need to please people, rather than owning it themselves. Just be descriptive and enthusiastic. Also, you can say things like, "you did x. That was considerate (kind, helpful, etc.)" Then, they get an idea of categorizing behaviors.
 

 

journeymom likes this.

Mama to angel1.gif angel1.gif angel1.gif angel1.gifangel1.gif

DS1 (6) jog.gif , DS2 (3)sleepytime.gifbaby.gif DD is here!

porcelina is offline  
#13 of 25 Old 02-02-2012, 11:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
anyalily's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Northern California
Posts: 886
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)

Awesome! Thanks to all. I am soaking it all in. lurk.gif


Mama to DD luxlove.gif born June 2008 and Wife to my dear Magyar foreign exchange husband. Expecting again in September!joy.gif 
anyalily is offline  
#14 of 25 Old 02-03-2012, 07:39 PM
 
Hymanroth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 105
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I will read every advice here! I need help with this too. I posted about this a while ago :D I'm a work in progress. Lol

Hymanroth is offline  
#15 of 25 Old 02-04-2012, 12:20 PM
 
mary934's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 142
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

 

 

http://www.alfiekohn.org/f_news/fullnews.php?fn_id=5

 

 

Alfie Kohn clarifies his views on praise , also on whether to praise effort or not -   do not praise effort 

 

instead give informational feedback , be descriptive  or ask questions which allow the kid to be reflective and talk about what , why and how he did. What's important is to show the kid that his feelings of pride and not the teacher's or parent's feelings are important 

 

Mary 

journeymom likes this.
mary934 is offline  
#16 of 25 Old 02-04-2012, 07:20 PM
 
journeymom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Having a Gilly Water with McGonagall
Posts: 7,417
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by mary934 View Post

 

 

http://www.alfiekohn.org/f_news/fullnews.php?fn_id=5

 

 

Alfie Kohn clarifies his views on praise , also on whether to praise effort or not -   do not praise effort 

 

instead give informational feedback , be descriptive  or ask questions which allow the kid to be reflective and talk about what , why and how he did. What's important is to show the kid that his feelings of pride and not the teacher's or parent's feelings are important 

 

Mary 



This makes so much sense.  A parent has to really look carefully at a child's efforts in order to ask questions about it. And it feels really good when an adult is obviously noticing details and 'getting it', rather than making a blanket statement of praise, no matter how well-intentioned. 


Someone moved my effing cheese.
journeymom is offline  
#17 of 25 Old 02-04-2012, 09:31 PM
 
Snapdragon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,561
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)

I may be the odd one out here- but I am confused as to why saying "you're so great" and other similar types of praise is something you are trying to avoid? I love praising my ds and do it often! It comes naturally and authenticaly to me because he is so great! I praise him regularly and tell him how beautiful and smart and capable etcetera he is. I don't see that as a bad thing- I have heard this type of question before so I do understand it is an issue some parents have in raising their kids. BUt I really don't understand why people think it is a problem.

I think a child who hears they are great from their parents, if it is authentic, that this can help them to build up their self esteem. I think the way we reflect our children- how we see them- teaches them some of how they will see themselves. So why would you want to only say something like- you did that so well, when what your heart feels is- you are so great?

sorry that this is taking away somewhat from the original question but I always find this type of question to be a sticking point! I do get that some people think maybe it will require the child to grow up and need external validation too much or something? But I totally disagree on two fronts. One, I think that praising a child- especially if it comes form the parent- is a great thing for their own self esteem. And secondly, I think it is okay to need others to sometimes validate us- I think that is human nature! I know that when I got together with my husband, who affirms my goodness regualrly, I became a lot more confident about myself. I was fairly confident before, but having regular external validation from someone who loves me has really helped me to settle even more into my self love. So I see parenting as the same thing-  in my opinion I think praise is a good thing! I don't think people - children or adults- should have to be totally self reliant. I think we do need others and we do respond to others' reflections. shy.gif

Snapdragon is offline  
#18 of 25 Old 02-04-2012, 11:25 PM
 
Imakcerka's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 4,026
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8 Post(s)

Well I have an example.  I told DD1 she was the best, the smartest, the most interesting and so great they might as well right her biography now.  Yeah she went to kinder and discovered she was average.  That was one pissed kid who thought I was a liar! 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snapdragon View Post

I may be the odd one out here- but I am confused as to why saying "you're so great" and other similar types of praise is something you are trying to avoid? I love praising my ds and do it often! It comes naturally and authenticaly to me because he is so great! I praise him regularly and tell him how beautiful and smart and capable etcetera he is. I don't see that as a bad thing- I have heard this type of question before so I do understand it is an issue some parents have in raising their kids. BUt I really don't understand why people think it is a problem.

I think a child who hears they are great from their parents, if it is authentic, that this can help them to build up their self esteem. I think the way we reflect our children- how we see them- teaches them some of how they will see themselves. So why would you want to only say something like- you did that so well, when what your heart feels is- you are so great?

sorry that this is taking away somewhat from the original question but I always find this type of question to be a sticking point! I do get that some people think maybe it will require the child to grow up and need external validation too much or something? But I totally disagree on two fronts. One, I think that praising a child- especially if it comes form the parent- is a great thing for their own self esteem. And secondly, I think it is okay to need others to sometimes validate us- I think that is human nature! I know that when I got together with my husband, who affirms my goodness regualrly, I became a lot more confident about myself. I was fairly confident before, but having regular external validation from someone who loves me has really helped me to settle even more into my self love. So I see parenting as the same thing-  in my opinion I think praise is a good thing! I don't think people - children or adults- should have to be totally self reliant. I think we do need others and we do respond to others' reflections. shy.gif



 

Imakcerka is offline  
#19 of 25 Old 02-05-2012, 07:29 AM
 
Snapdragon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 4,561
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)

Imackerka- I get what you are saying- but I have a different opinion than many on this I guess! I think that anyone who one loves is going to seem elevated to us. Y'know-? to me my husband and child are more beautiful and smarter etcera, than some random kid- because I am in love with them. My own parents think it is amazing when I do x, y and z- even though sme stranger couldn't care less. So in their eyes I am exalted because they love me. I think at home, in the family unit, that praise and exaltation is a good thing! I don't tell ds- you are beautiful and more beautiful than the neighbor kid, or smarter than your future classmates- just, you are beautiful and smart.

Snapdragon is offline  
#20 of 25 Old 02-05-2012, 12:24 PM
 
bodhitree's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: where the mountains meet the plains
Posts: 904
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

My parents did their best to build our self esteem by praising us regularly and telling us how great we were, etc. For me, I do feel like it made me overly sensitive to external approval and disapproval. Reading the parts of "Unconditional Parenting" where he talks about what happens when you over-praise kids was like reading my autobiography. That's just my experience, and it may be different for others, but that's why I choose not to do a lot of the "you're so smart! you're so beautiful!" stuff with my kid. It's not that I don't think she is amazing and smart and beautiful, because I do. But I think hearing it from me all the time might not be the best thing for her own strength of character.


Living the good life and walking a path of peace with DH and DD (4/09)
bodhitree is offline  
#21 of 25 Old 02-05-2012, 02:54 PM
 
journeymom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Having a Gilly Water with McGonagall
Posts: 7,417
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)

 

My mom said once that I was her favorite 10 year old girl in the world. And I pointed out that she's my mom and of course she'd say something like that. eyesroll.gif  But it DID stick with me. Even though I said otherwise, I took the sentiment to heart.  Basically it felt great that I was that important to her, even if she was humorously over-stating it.


Someone moved my effing cheese.
journeymom is offline  
#22 of 25 Old 02-05-2012, 10:45 PM
 
LynnS6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pacific NW longing for the Midwest
Posts: 12,446
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

For me, the key is giving authentic feedback and sharing my joy with my kids. I do praise my kids. I do tell my children they're beautiful/handsome (ds won't let me call him beautiful anymore). I tell them they look really nice in something, just like I would an adult.

 

What I'm more careful about is praising achievements. I don't want to have them feel like my love is conditional on their achievements. On the other hand, sometimes they do some really good or interesting work. Then we talk about what makes it good or interesting. I will say "wow, I really like that". I'll put it on the fridge. When they're report cards come, we talk about them. We read the comments and talk about them. We talk about whether they think they're an accurate reflection of their work. We pay as much attention to the effort grades as the achievement grades.

 

When our kids have made sustained effort to accomplish something, I'll tell them. Ds and I spent 45 minutes working on a drawing (he had to draw a literal interpretation of an idiom) the other night. He'd been asked to redo it because his first drawing sucked. Ds' drawing skills are very limited. (I mentioned to dh that he needed remedial art skills and dh said "there's no "re-" about it, he never had any to begin with!). He managed to produce a recognizable drawing that had 3D figures and didn't involve stick figures. But it was hard work. After that he asked me "Do you think it's good enough?" I asked him what he thought, I told him honestly that it was a lot better than his previous drawing and that I was proud of him for putting in the hard work to make it better. He didn't leave the table thinking he was the world's greatest artist. But he did leave it understanding that he can achieve some basics if he works hard, and that I was proud of him for making the effort.

 

The other thing we do is to make sure that our kids know they're worth our time. Ds's drawing experience with me showed him that he's worth my time, even when it's not great art. More that that, we do things with them. They are important conversation partners in our home. We have dinner together 98% of the time. We take the time to teach them things and give them responsibility.

 

So, while I would say that it's good to be careful of the vacuous "good job," I wouldn't say to never praise your children.

 

 


Lynnteapot2.GIF, academicreading.gif,geek.gif wife, WOHM  to T jog.gif(4/01) and M whistling.gif (5/04)
LynnS6 is offline  
#23 of 25 Old 02-06-2012, 09:17 AM
 
mamazee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: US midwest
Posts: 7,246
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)

I think a way to look at whether the praise is a problem and what Alfie Kohn is talking about is to look at your reasons for praising. If it's because you want the behavior or whatever to continue and you're hoping that praising will make your child want to do it again, then it's a manipulative behaviorist type of praise. Also, not everything people think of as "praise" is praise. Praise is an appraisal. Not everything nice you say is an appraisal.

mamazee is offline  
#24 of 25 Old 02-06-2012, 04:50 PM
 
CandiceSays's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 2
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

My children respond really well to me commenting on what I see. "Your legs went all the way over with that cartwheel" or "your lines are really strong in that picture" It totally blew my mind that they had such a great response to this, way more thoughtful and content than when it was "great job!"

CandiceSays is offline  
#25 of 25 Old 02-06-2012, 04:50 PM
 
CandiceSays's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 2
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

My children respond really well to me commenting on what I see. "Your legs went all the way over with that cartwheel" or "your lines are really strong in that picture" It totally blew my mind that they had such a great response to this, way more thoughtful and content than when it was "great job!"

CandiceSays is offline  
Reply

Tags
Gentle Discipline

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off