Friday, August 13, 2010

Praise and Manipulation... again

I wrote about this before but I wanted to touch on it again.

I hate praise.  But I think I understand it a little better.  I don't hate praise so much as I hate manipulation.  There's a difference, here it is.

Luke puts a dish away in the dish washer after I asked him by saying 'lets put our breakfast plates in the dishwasher'.  He does it.  I say 'thank you for putting your dish away'.

That is praise.  Everyone deserves it.

I say to my husband after dinner when he ever so kindly cleans up the kitchen while I nurse Luke to sleep... 'thanks for cleaning up the rest of the dishes'.  That is normal.  That is the kind way to treat someone after they have helped you do something.  Or just to acknowledge that they work hard for you.  So that the feel appreciated.  Maybe some don't need that to do things that they see need to be done.  And, it isn't exactly needed.  But isn't it nice when someone recongizes that you spent a little extra time doing something, especially your family?

Manipulation.  *In a high pitch baby voice* 'Luke, thanks for putting the dishes away!  You're so helpful!  Thanks for being such a good helper.  You're so good!!'  Manipulating him into thinking that he's really going to get this special attention every time he does something of my approval.  Something that he's going to expect every time.  It's over done.  It's so over done that he's going to seek that huge approval for everything.  And when he's older and actually treated like another human, he's going to realize that we don't do that any more.  That adults don't talk like that.  That he's going to have to find other ways to seek that kind of attention from me.  I don't want that kind of attention to be used to teach him to what I want him to do. I don't want that used to manipulate him.  

I want him to see a need that the dishes need to be off the table and put away.  Not just doing it for love from his mother.  He can get the love and attention when he needs it.   And most of all I want to treat my son like he's a person, not my slave or a lesser than me.  He's as equally valuable as me.  As my lovely neighbor, Lisa_C, said once, parents aren't the dictators, they are more like leaders.   My goal isn't to have my son put dishes away.  My goal is to enable him to be the person he is meant to be and to help him along the way.

I'm sure I'm going to learn more about this as he grows.  But for now this is what I've learned. 


Lisa C said...

I've had more thoughts on praise, too. I've realized that there really are different kinds of praise, and the kinds we use and the context of how we use it can really affect the child. I don't think it's something we need to obsess over, but I believe that once we are in the right mindset it can be really easy to praise in an effective, non-manipulatory way.

And I absolutely believe that saying "good boy" for desired behavior can backfire. A child isn't good or bad depending on whether or not they do something you like. Something like "good job" is helpful in showing a child that they did something right, but doesn't need to be used over and over again for the same thing, and it doesn't need to be used for everything. "Thank you" of course, can be used all the time. It shows appreciation and you can help your child learn to appreciate others by modelling this phrase.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on praise for now.

Cassie said...

Yeah, I mean, I don't obsess over it either. Every once and a while i have a mini epiphany or new thought about it. I just kinda thought about it again the other day.
I agree with everything you said too :)

Lisa C said...

Didn't mean to say you were obsessing over it! I LOVE your posts on praise, and hope you continue with them.