Am I the only one who wasn't thrilled with the book Unconditional Parenting? - Page 4 - Mothering Forums
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#91 of 117 Old 10-19-2005, 10:59 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sadie_sabot
yah, I mean, think of the playground...oh, good sliding! good swinging! good walking! good breathing! it's freakin' ridiculous! It feels tome like people are tyring to have positive interacvtions with their kids wihtout having to you know, touble themselves to pay attention or converse with their kids. Good falling! good crying!
Oh my, but did you hit it on the head. This is just how I feel about praise - like it is EASIER to just hand out "good this", "good that" then to mindfully interact. I laugh, remembering a friend who would say "good clapping!!!" with enormous enthusiasm whenever her little girl clapped. It was amazing.

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Originally Posted by sadie_sabot
I don't think UP even tries to offer tips on "how to parent." It has no useful tips or tricks. (*I like "How to become the parent you want to be" for that kind of stuff. I found it to be much more of a book about shifting opur paradigms, challenging our unchallenged assumptions, and what not.
Tremendously well said.

It's not, in my view, a book of parenting techniques. It is an invitation to shift your World view and how you relate with others.
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#92 of 117 Old 10-20-2005, 01:08 AM
 
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Originally Posted by annabanana
well, yes and no.

saying 'good job' is not just 'saying good job'. it is a certain way to relate to your child, thus constructing a certain relationship pattern with your child and with others around you.

saying 'good job' (the way AK talks about it -- a general praise for everything a child does) means that you (not 'you' in particular, the general 'you') do not pay attention to the particulars of your child's achievement. it means that you are not very mindful and aware, and are somewhat congnitively lazy.

it means that you are making your child dependent on this praise, thus reducing his chances to be internally motivated to help himself and others.

it means that you are reducing the child's self esteem, by making him dependent on other's to know his or her worth.

well, see, all that is stated as fact, when i don't believe it is. that's one analysis of praise, but it isn't empirical fact.
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#93 of 117 Old 10-20-2005, 10:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mama ganoush
well, see, all that is stated as fact, when i don't believe it is. that's one analysis of praise, but it isn't empirical fact.
there are countless studies, well controlled and executed, that support this. check the last 20 years or of psychological research.

the opposing point of view (yours?) is deeply rooted in behaviorism, and while behaviorism was revolutionary in its time, it is, mostly a historical curiosity nowadays. sure, it has its applications -- mostly in training severely handicapped individuals. most of its assumptions and principles have been developed based on lab rat research. not to offend the rats, they are highly intelligent, but no one asked them if they were happy running mazes for food pellets, and escaping electric shocks.

so what is your analysis of praise, out of curiosity?
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#94 of 117 Old 10-20-2005, 11:08 AM
 
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i'm not really here to debate the scientific merit of praise-this was a thread for people who don't think this is the greatest book ever, and i used it as a platform for my general feeling that that there is no book that is thre greatest book ever for my child unless it was written by me.

as for my personal feelings on praise, i don't praise my daughter for every little thing from waking up in the morning to using the bathroom. but i was raised with next to no compliments or positive attention, and i think that is far more harmful than being told 'good job' by a loving parent. i happen to not use good job all that much, but not because some book told me not to. it's just never been one of my phrases.

i believe it is possible, and i'm not sure how to phrase this that won't ruffle feathers, to overthink parenting. to get so bogged down with worry over every tiny detail, that it can be paralyzing. and i think books like this, however well intentioned, add to that. I cringe whenever i pick up a parenting magazine that feeds parents quotes of the exact words they are 'supposed' to use with their children. Like mothers-cause again it is usually mothers reading the stuff-now can't even be trusted to use the right words to praise their child's coloring. i feel the constant second guessing that so many moms do is disempowering, and i think there is an entire industry getting rich off of feeding this anxiety.
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#95 of 117 Old 10-20-2005, 11:15 AM
 
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mama ganoush, I also do not wish to debate & appreciate that everyone has the opportunity to share their p.o.v. Sometimes threads develop into a bit of a different direction, kwim?

The one thing that really stuck out in your post is that you mention "worrying over every tiny detail". I think this general idea comes up again and again, that if the spirit of UP is taken in then it means that we must second guess and worry over all of our parenting behaviors. In my own experience, the impact of UP has been completely opposite. It has opened a window for me - - not that it's message was completely alien to me, but it somehow tied it all up in a way that really shifted my view.

I wonder, is this the general consensus among those who disliked the book, that it causes worry or anxiety in parenting?

(btw, for what it's worth, I am enjoying this discussion and not meaning to cram "my truth" down anyone else's throat)
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#96 of 117 Old 10-20-2005, 01:42 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pixiexto
mama ganoush, I also do not wish to debate & appreciate that everyone has the opportunity to share their p.o.v. Sometimes threads develop into a bit of a different direction, kwim?

The one thing that really stuck out in your post is that you mention "worrying over every tiny detail". I think this general idea comes up again and again, that if the spirit of UP is taken in then it means that we must second guess and worry over all of our parenting behaviors. In my own experience, the impact of UP has been completely opposite. It has opened a window for me - - not that it's message was completely alien to me, but it somehow tied it all up in a way that really shifted my view.
Yah.

I am not inclined to argue with folks who read the book and weren't into it. But it's really a mischaracterization to say it's about overthinking every little thing, etc.

For me, the most important thing about this book is how it challenges the widely accepted assumptions of behaviorism, which I think permeate every level of our society. I'd love top see some of the principles of UP applied much more braodly, like, say, to norms of employer/employee relationships and what not.
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#97 of 117 Old 10-21-2005, 11:24 AM
 
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I don't think mama g was saying that UP specifically is all about overthinking parenting. I think mama g was saying that in general it's possible to overthink parenting and that in general all these parenting books really add to the anxiety and overthinking-and it's an industry built on telling parents (especially mothers) that they aren't wise enough to raise a child and need an expert to tell them how, an industry built on influencing parents to listen not to their children and themselves but to experts who know nothing about their own personal circumstances. I think she was saying that there is no one true, greatest book to tell her how to best raise her child-that she can only find the best way to raise her child within herself and her child and their relationship. I think she was saying that in general mothers can and should trust themselves and their children rather than looking so much to experts to tell them what to do-especially the intelligent, wise, loving mamas here.

I think she has a good point.

As far as UP goes, I think Kohn has some great ideas that our society really could stand to think about. I would love to see behaviorism lose it's hold on our culture. But I think Kohn is one of those who overthinks parenting, though maybe it's just his writing style. I don't think that's a mischaracterization, I think it's how I perceived it and interpreted it. Others will disagree, because they perceived and interpreted it differently. That is one of the amazing things about people, they all think and perceive in different ways. It's very interesting to share with each other our different points of view and our different understandings of the same material.
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#98 of 117 Old 10-21-2005, 01:25 PM
 
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something has been bothering me...it's connected to this thread although not directly about the OP, so I apologize if anyone thinks this is inappropriate.

mama g said,
Quote:
The only expert on my child is me.
and I feel the same way...none of the authors of any aprenting books have met my kid, or know my family, or know all the things that have happened in her life so far, and so on.

But I think it is porblematic to assert that this is widely the case and that parenting books aremore trouble than help because of it. I am thinking about people who are not good parents, for one reason or another. people who suffered terrible parenting themseklves and haven't learned how to do it differently. People who are not able to control their own anger and frustration, people who lack insight into toher people, whatever it is...I think that actuyally more people should get some exposure to some very basic parenting stuff of the just slightly more ap than mainstream variety, a lot less children would end up hurt.

Does that make any sense? I am not in any way trying to comment on anyone's parenting or connection to their kid, but to point out that what is true for some of us is far from true for other people.
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#99 of 117 Old 10-21-2005, 03:08 PM
 
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Interesting. I think I know what you mean, but I see the problem slightly differently.

I think parents are the only experts on their own children the vast majority of the time, but often other things get in the way of their parenting compassionately or well. (I will insert the disclaimer here that I am very, very reluctant to judge whether someone else is a good parent or a bad parent.) For example, many people do not listen to those deep inner voices that tell them that something they're doing is hurtful to their child because the cultural voices/norms overwhelm those voices (how many moms let their babies cio because they believe they have to, and hate every moment of it?). Or their own preoccupations with other stressful events prevent them from really being in touch with either their children or themselves. Or because they're too busy taking in all the advice from friends and family and pediatricians and the media to listen to their own knowledge of their children and what their children need. Or, or, or.... And that someone didn't have a good role model for parenting doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't the expert on their own child, but maybe that they don't have the skills to use their knowledge of their child to parent effectively. YK?

It's a complicated problem. If there is one thing I've learned since becoming a parent, it's that it's impossible to make a blanket statement without soon discovering that there are exceptions to what you've said. I think most reasonably loving parents do have the knowledge and compassion they need to raise kids, but it gets clouded sometimes. And yes, all those books do can in handy-the books can give you ideas, new ways of looking at things. In other words, they can make you think. This is good. I think what is not good is when people take parenting books less as a catalyst for looking at parenting a new way, and more as a strict how-to guide (which is how many of them present themselves). The reason I don't think this is good is that when books present a "how-to" formula, it's very rarely a one-size fits all formula that can work for everyone. I also think it's problematic when parents automatically assume that some expert always has the answer, rather than listening to their child. I guess I see parenting books as a double-edged sword, offering good ideas sometimes and sometimes really helping a parent improve their relationship with their kids, but also often getting in the way of parents listening to their own kids.

Maybe if our society in general trusted children to learn and grow and believed in their basic goodness, we wouldn't have so many experts telling us how to change them. And maybe parents would not only be more confident, but also more patient and less in need of people to tell us how to handle our children.

Hmmmm. I have been mulling over UP for months, and I can't honestly say that I feel completely one way or another about it. Perhaps that's because sometimes I see it in the "how-to" light even though it's clearly not a "how-to" book-that's not coming out right but it's as close as I can get. Maybe I've been seeing his discussions and questioning of praise and expressions of disapproval as advice (don't praise, don't express disapproval) rather than as simply a way of provoking thought, of forcing people to look at the parent-child relationship in new ways. I may go re-read again, and think about this some more.
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#100 of 117 Old 10-21-2005, 03:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sadie_sabot
I am thinking about people who are not good parents, for one reason or another. people who suffered terrible parenting themseklves and haven't learned how to do it differently. People who are not able to control their own anger and frustration, people who lack insight into toher people, whatever it is...I think that actuyally more people should get some exposure to some very basic parenting stuff of the just slightly more ap than mainstream variety, a lot less children would end up hurt.
i totally agree with this-but ime, it isn't these parents who are buying these books.
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#101 of 117 Old 10-21-2005, 04:05 PM
 
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yah mama g, that's true.
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#102 of 117 Old 10-21-2005, 05:39 PM
 
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Hope you don't mind me jumping in, but I just wanted to say that I think sledg spoke some words of wisdom there. I agree 100% that people should get more exposure to different parenting skills, but, like you said, most people are learning their parenting from magazines, books, and people that are, at the end of the day, motivated by profit. Hell, probably even Alfie Kohn wants to make some money. And Parenting magazine, which I subscribe to, : is like Cosmopolitan for mothers, all about setting you up by telling you what you're doing wrong and how you're lacking, and then "helping" you with a handy-dandy list of answers, which are somehow usually a round number. Because there really are only 10 different ways to teach your baby to sleep.

I think Mamaganoush is right, mothers shouldn't overthink every detail, but it's also hard to know what to do, and to rely on instinct, especially if you're deviating greatly from how you were parented, because the information about doing it differently is so questionable. I've had people say to me, "Oh yeah, we're getting ready to Ferberize, you have to Ferberize." Like the pp said, they never even thought about it, that's just what you do. Even AP moms are like that, I've noticed. They're making themselves miserable because they have to "whatever" and it just doesn't work for their child. And I definitely am not blaming any mom for this, I do it too. It's so hard not to, because it's hard to know what else to do. There's no cultural wisdom to draw on, no elders to go and discuss it with. Most of the time when I call my mom to ask her advice, she gives me an answer that I want to laugh at. And when my granny was alive and I talked to her about parenting, it was like we had grown up on different planets.

Whoo! Sorry for the rant!

Mommy to kids

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#103 of 117 Old 10-21-2005, 06:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sledg
As far as UP goes, I think Kohn has some great ideas that our society really could stand to think about. I would love to see behaviorism lose it's hold on our culture. But I think Kohn is one of those who overthinks parenting, though maybe it's just his writing style. I don't think that's a mischaracterization, I think it's how I perceived it and interpreted it.
That's one of my problems with UP. We don't use time outs or punishment nor indeed most of the things Kohn recommends against, yet I am still turned off by this book. I recently finished Hold on to Your Kids. It covers much of the same territory, but it deals with parenting from the inside and the nurturing of the parents relationship with their children. Hold on to Your Kids is about parenting from the heart and it spoke to me deeply. Kohn comes off to me as advocating parenting with the head (this study says this is bad, that study says that is bad.. don't do this or that) and about analyzing what's on the surface... reactive rather than intuitive. He further strikes me as someone who is very rigid in his beliefs and stands on his principles alone, never willing to admit that his generalizations don't apply to all people and situations.
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#104 of 117 Old 10-22-2005, 11:01 PM
 
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Okay I finally got through this thread, and I haven't read the book yet (it's been sitting on my nightstand for awhile now) but I read some articles he wrote and a couple points confused me.

I've always felt uncomfortable saying anything along the lines of "ooh that makes kitty so happy when you pet him gently" because I thought you weren't supposed to make them feel responsible for someone else's happiness. Saying "it makes me sad when you hit me" makes me feel manipulative way more than saying "I'm proud of you for being so gentle."

He also said something along the lines of, why would you praise something to encourage repeats of that behavior, because it's like you have no faith in them in ever repeating it. Well, sometimes my son does accomplish something that is quite impressive for his age, or for him, and if he manages to sit quietly and play through a half hour wait at the pediatrician's office, I'm impressed and wouldn't mind if he repeated it.

I don't know, what I'm getting from this thread is that he has some good points about looking at how much we praise and why we do it. But I think there's merit to the idea that you can feel like you can't do anything right. I'm guessing the people out there who are shouting out "GOOD SHARING!" if the kid throws a morsel of food at the dog are not the parents reading this book. Instead it's probably the parents who are careful to offer specific and attentive praise, and then they get to worry that there's something wrong with that, too.

Without having read much of him yet, I'm going to also boldly add that I think so many writers of parenting books have some really good ideas, and then package them up in a book and make the points more of a giant exaggerated theory (i.e. praise= bad). Maybe he doesn't. I'll definietly check him out still. I'm just wary these days. I imagine I'll be partly defensive, partly stuimulated, and partly annoyed.
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#105 of 117 Old 10-24-2005, 03:24 PM
 
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bumpety bump bump.
No one wants to comment on the whole "that makes him happy" idea as manipulative? Does Kohn get more into that? Maybe I'm misunderstanding him from just reading a short article.
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#106 of 117 Old 10-24-2005, 03:45 PM
 
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Yeah I always thoght it was a double standard too.
We are supposed to encourage empathy rather than guilt.
"See how hitting your brother makes him angry and sad. Doesnt it hurt to be hit? What do you think you can do to make him feel better."
Is the kind of comment we are encouraged to make rather than "hitting is not nice"
But we are discouraged from saying "hitting me makes me angry" because it makes them responsible for our feelings.
Like it is ok to say they are responsible for some peoples feelings but parents feeligns dont count.
Either the things we do affect the feelings of others or they dont. It is just contrived and manipulative to do it one way for some situations but not for others. Especially when it is true. 'it makes me angry when you pull my hair" is just as legitimate as "it makes the cat angry when you pull his tail"

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#107 of 117 Old 10-24-2005, 04:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Hazelnut
bumpety bump bump.
No one wants to comment on the whole "that makes him happy" idea as manipulative? Does Kohn get more into that? Maybe I'm misunderstanding him from just reading a short article.
this is interesting. where is the line between showing how we impact others, and making us 'responsible' for how others feel.

when dd willingly shares with her baby brother, i say 'look how happy he is, smiling, playing with the toy'.

if she pushes him, i say 'look how sad he is. he is crying. his head hurts.'

i am kind of thinking as i am writing.

yes, this does imply that 'she made him happy' or 'she made him sad'. well, this is true. he is reacting to her actions, she had an impact on him.

is she responsible for his feelings? hm, somewhat i guess (fact). she contributed to his feelings.

i guess this is the truth -- we do impact on how others feel. but how to make sure she does not feel OVERLY responsible? or guilty? i don't know.

i do not feel this is manipulative per se. maybe it is just in the wording, but i feel there is a difference between you MADE him sad, and he is sad, though the actual distintion in terms of behaviours is not clear.

i still prefer pointiting out how her actions affect others, rather than giving her praise in terms of 'good girl'. i feel it is LESS manipulative.

when you praise directly, you have a goal -- repeat of the behaviour, mainly. otherwise you would not praise -- you want something from that child. it is more disconnected from the act of sharing, for example. you share, you get 'a cookie'. what is the relation? but if you share and you see someone happy, it is directly connected to your behaviour.

with the direct praise you are even more so made responsible for others' feelings. you share, your mom seems ecstatic, but there is no connection to the behaviour. so the connection is between your action and the praise, not between your action and the direct result of your action.

ah, not sure if this makes any sense. i will post it anyway. curious what others have to comment.
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#108 of 117 Old 10-24-2005, 05:14 PM
 
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when you praise directly, you have a goal -- repeat of the behaviour, mainly. otherwise you would not praise
THis is absolutely uneqivocally untrue.
Praise is an expression of delight. Perhaps some do contrive praise to fulfill another purpose, but that is like saying the purpose of smiling is to get somebody to smile back.
Maybe some people do that. But some people just smile because they are happy.
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#109 of 117 Old 10-24-2005, 07:32 PM
 
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Quote: "The only expert on my child is me."

***I believe Alfie Kohn's point is that this is an erroneous belief. The only expert on any child is himself. The book's premise is the child's own perception of their parenting is what is relevant, not the parent's intent. Therefore, his "how to" advice is to celebrate your child's own expertise about himself by listening to him and honoring his autonomy without subjugating it to behavior modification toward the parent's intended goals.

That "mama doesn't know best". This paradigm shift does challenge the conventional "wisdom", even on MDC.

Pat

Edited not to attribute quote to any one person.

I have a blog.
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#110 of 117 Old 10-24-2005, 07:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by scubamama
The only expert on any child is himself. The book's premise is the child's own perception of their parenting is what is relevant, not the parent's intent. Therefore, his "how to" advice is to celebrate your child's own expertise about himself by listening to him and honoring his autonomy without subjugating it to behavior modification toward the parent's intended goals.

Pat
Oh, well said, well said.
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#111 of 117 Old 10-24-2005, 10:00 PM
 
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Daughter since '68 ~Sister since '72 ~Wife since '97 ~ Mama since DS 5/03& DD 10/08
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#112 of 117 Old 10-24-2005, 11:06 PM
 
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Hhmm, that's interesting Anna. I don't really have anything interesting to say except that I can kind of see his point more now. I do disagree on the same point Johub did- I think I often praise just because I'm proud of him, or because I think it feels good to hear deserved praise and I want him to feel good about himself. That's where I think maybe the criticism of overpraising maybe shouldn't be extended to any genuine praise from a well-meaning, attentive parent. But I can see how it probably often gets reduced to pure manipulation, especially when people are bent on treating kids a little too much like little soldiers. I don't always think encouraging behavior through praise is inherently wrong at times either, but I'm thinking about what you said. I think the feelings thing can be overdone as well, but I suppose it's also beneficial at times, especially when positive (i.e. see how happy he is now).
Johub, sometimes I think it sounds contrived because it is a little too contrived. I seek suggestions, but at the same time I dislike when any parenting advice person is extremely specific about what is OK and what is not acceptable.
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#113 of 117 Old 10-24-2005, 11:22 PM
 
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Maybe my memory is off , but I just can't remember coming away from any of the chapters with the message that, as parents, we are not to tell a child how their behavior influences us.

I don't see a problem with telling my child (or anyone, for that matter) how their behavior impacts me. I am not assigning fixed traits (you are bad) or even attributing malintent if I say "When you hit me, it hurts and I feel angry" . Instead, I am teaching my child a valuable lesson - that we affect others through our actions.

Is this the same as saying "when you share your special doll with your sister, she is smiling! She seems to feel happy!" ? Yes, similar. Again, I am not assigning fixed traits (i.e. you are good, you are worthy because you share), I am showing her what may not be clear to her at this age - that she affects others.

Hmm... I'm not sure I'm making much sense tonight, but this is my little stream of consciousness
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#114 of 117 Old 10-25-2005, 12:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hazelnut
Johub, sometimes I think it sounds contrived because it is a little too contrived. I seek suggestions, but at the same time I dislike when any parenting advice person is extremely specific about what is OK and what is not acceptable.
Yes but it is every so much easier to set ourselves the standard to be emotionally honest with our children and not to misuse love, affection and praise to get what we want.
Saying you should not praise a child (because some use praise to manipulate their children) is equivalent to saying that you should not show affection to your child because some use displays of affection to manipulate their children.
If you are emotionally honest and speak from the heart you arent going to go wrong. If you stop yourself from saying what comes naturally and joyfully because somebody once wrote a book that it was bad to say those things, THAT is what is contrived.

Joline
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#115 of 117 Old 10-25-2005, 12:48 AM
 
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Maybe I sound like I'm all over the place, but i agree with you, and that was one thing I was trying to say, though probably didn't do well. I think Kohn might have some good points, but is possibly taking it a bit far and making people who are probably using less manipulative, genuine praise doubt themselves. I'm starting to see how some praise is manipulative, but I don't think praise is bad when it's not doled out by the megaton load. I like it mixed up with the genuine attentive observations he talks about (which comes naturally to me, and I'm no expert, so I don't think it's a terribly revolutionary idea on his part.)

Again, I'm only going from articles I read and just discussing the ideas in general here, and not exactly the merit of the book itself.
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#116 of 117 Old 10-25-2005, 01:28 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johub
Yes but it is every so much easier to set ourselves the standard to be emotionally honest with our children and not to misuse love, affection and praise to get what we want.
Jumping in again.

Just wanted to say I totally agree with this. I think we should give children more credit. They can sort through the BS, at 2.5 my dd already senses false praise, and it just pushes her the other way. But she knows when we mean it.

Also, we all agree you should avoid negative statements, like, "Throwing that food on the floor was very naughty," right? Because they might internalize it, right? They'll think, "What I did was naughty, I must be naughty, I'm worthless."

Well, why doesn't this work the other way? For example, "You did a good job of cleaning up that milk you spilled."

What does the child think?

"My mom only loves me because I can clean up milk."

or maybe...

"I'm good at cleaning things up. I can solve problems when I make a mistake. I'm capable."

I might be convoluting things a bit for the sake of argument here, but I just don't think anyone's going to be any worse off if you just said, "Good job!" in reference to the cleaning of the milk. Your child can read between the lines, they know what you're referring to.

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#117 of 117 Old 10-25-2005, 01:33 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by natensarah
I might be convoluting things a bit for the sake of argument here, but I just don't think anyone's going to be any worse off if you just said, "Good job!" in reference to the cleaning of the milk. Your child can read between the lines, they know what you're referring to.
I agree 100%.

Good job, Sarah! I always enjoy your posts.



~Nay

Reneé, 33 year old mom to Antonin 8/04 nocirc.gif and Arianna 9/06 gd.gif angel1.gifangel1.gif (6 weeks) 5/08. Married to Matt since 6/03 blowkiss.gif.  TTC a little rainbow rainbow1284.gifchartnew.gif http://www.FertilityFriend.com/home/4e4ac9 Currently in the 2WW 
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