Self-Reliant Part Three

Ready for another dose?? =)

Let's talk about feedback. And the messages we send.

First off -- think about what you most often say to your kids (for me, it's "good job!"). Positive - yes. Specific - no. Helpful? Yes and no. If I say something like "I love how helpful you are!" my child will know what to repeat for next time. "Good job" is pretty general and may not result in repeat behaviors.

A child will feel truer pride in themselves when given specific feedback. "Compare the paper marked 'great' with the one that comes back marked, 'I really like the way your paragraphs were organized.' Such specific feedback constitutes true affirmation by drawing attention to the writer's own particular capabilities."

Now flip that over and think about how specific you are when you disapprove!! "I can't believe you just threw that across the room! How rude and how dangerous!!" YA. Let's not give detailed criticism for failures and unspecific, general praise for success. Other way around.

Praise is good, right?? Saying "good job..." is going to really help our children feel confident and successful? I believe it helps, yes, but in MODERATION. "The problem with praise is that it is effective in making people dependent upon the approval or opinion of others. Praise encourages an outer locus of control."

Ideally, we want to reinforce positive behavior by reminding them how it's going to benefit their lives. "I'm proud of you for picking up your toys when asked. That habit will make you a better husband (teehee)!" I believe this prompts internal control -- they are learning how to make their own lives better, not learning to do something JUST to make mom happy.

A little off topic here -- but speaking of messages and media...we, as parents, need to compensate for media's negative messages by "helping children think critically about what they see and by modeling, in our relationships with them, the things we value." If we have a TV in the home or watch online...or if there are other forms of media our children are exposed to...they will get negative messages! Model what you value. Practice what you preach. Teach critical thinking skills. "What do you think will happen to this person who is practicing this behavior..."

And finally -- our goal as parents is to produce children with CHARACTER, right? What character traits do we want them to possess? The authors of this book say that "Children sharpen their self-evaluation skills when we talk with them about what they admire in people." In other words, when we talk about how patient someone is...or how humble, gentle, brave, responsible, etc...we are sending our children the message that these are admirable qualities that would be good to possess. Let's point them out and talk about them! Role models are important.