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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<p>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.</p>
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<p>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...</p>
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<p>"You're so great." vs. "I like what you did."???</p>
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<p>Thanks!</p>
 

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

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<p>One of my favorite books is <em>How ot Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk. </em>(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 <em>feel</em> 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!</p>
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<p>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!" </p>
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
<p>Thanks everyone! Great ideas. I will dig in and give it some consideration.</p>
 

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<p>this is a really interesting article (example) of praise vs. encouragement.<a href="http://www.noogenesis.com/malama/encouragement.html" target="_blank">http://www.noogenesis.com/malama/encouragement.html</a> </p>
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<p>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!" </p>
 

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<p>How Not to Talk to Your Kids  <a href="http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/" target="_blank">http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/</a></p>
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<p>The Effort Effect  <a href="http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2007/marapr/features/dweck.html" target="_blank">http://www.stanfordalumni.org/news/magazine/2007/marapr/features/dweck.html</a></p>
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<p>Both of these articles really changed my perspective.  I wish I'd read them when my kids were little! </p>
 

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<p>This article by Alfie Kohn is also really good: Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!" <a href="http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/gj.htm" target="_blank">http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/gj.htm</a></p>
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<p>The basic point is be specific and sincere.</p>
 

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<p>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.</p>
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<p>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.</p>
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<p>Hope that helps!</p>
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<p><br>
 </p>
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>KathrynH</strong> <a href="/community/t/1343228/too-much-positive-feedback-resources-for-other-ways-to-build-self-esteem#post_16848292"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><p>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!" </p>
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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.</p>
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<p>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:</p>
<p><a href="http://codenamemama.com/2010/06/02/good-job/" target="_blank">http://codenamemama.com/2010/06/02/good-job/</a></p>
<p>This post was nice too:</p>
<p><a href="http://parentingfromscratch.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/encouraging-things-to-say-to-kids/" target="_blank">http://parentingfromscratch.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/encouraging-things-to-say-to-kids/</a></p>
<p>This too:</p>
<p><a href="http://www.naturalchild.org/robin_grille/rewards_praise.html" target="_blank">http://www.naturalchild.org/robin_grille/rewards_praise.html</a></p>
 

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<p>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".</p>
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<p>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.<br>
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
<p>Awesome! Thanks to all. I am soaking it all in. <img alt="lurk.gif" id="user_yui_3_4_1_2_1328211048707_162" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/lurk.gif"></p>
 

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<p><a href="http://www.alfiekohn.org/f_news/fullnews.php?fn_id=5" target="_blank">http://www.alfiekohn.org/f_news/fullnews.php?fn_id=5</a></p>
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<p>Alfie Kohn clarifies his views on praise , also on whether to praise effort or not -   do not praise effort </p>
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<p>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 </p>
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<p>Mary </p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>mary934</strong> <a href="/community/t/1343228/too-much-positive-feedback-resources-for-other-ways-to-build-self-esteem#post_16863067"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><p> </p>
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<p><a href="http://www.alfiekohn.org/f_news/fullnews.php?fn_id=5" target="_blank">http://www.alfiekohn.org/f_news/fullnews.php?fn_id=5</a></p>
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<p>Alfie Kohn clarifies his views on praise , also on whether to praise effort or not -   do not praise effort </p>
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<p>instead <strong>give informational feedback , be descriptive  or ask questions which allow the kid to be reflective and talk about what , why and how he did.</strong> What's important is to show the kid that his feelings of pride and not the teacher's or parent's feelings are important </p>
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<p>Mary </p>
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<br><br><p>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. </p>
 

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<p>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.</p>
<p>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?</p>
<p>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. <span><img alt="shy.gif" height="15" id="user_yui_3_4_1_2_1328419533919_151" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/shy.gif" width="15"></span></p>
 

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<p>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! <br>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Snapdragon</strong> <a href="/community/t/1343228/too-much-positive-feedback-resources-for-other-ways-to-build-self-esteem#post_16863627"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><p>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.</p>
<p>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?</p>
<p>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. <span><img alt="shy.gif" id="user_yui_3_4_1_2_1328419533919_151" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/shy.gif" style="width:15px;height:15px;"></span></p>
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<p>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.</p>
 

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<p>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.</p>
 
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