Wednesday, June 17, 2009

In Praise of Not Praising

So, everyone knows by now that Alfie Kohn is one of my favorite gurus. I just found an article summing up a lot of research and his writings on how praise is actually detrimental to children and developing skills.

Kohn's writings are all based on solid research, and his book (and DVD, which we should really watch, although we've read the book a lot) Unconditional Parenting is my favorite parenting book. Others have great specific tips I have found insanely useful, but this book is the bedrock of what it is we're trying to do with Sophie.

We have definitely stayed away from "good girl" with Sophie (because what's the implication? That if she didn't do whatever it was, that she would be a bad girl? There are no bad girls.) And we have tried to not say "good job," but I have found myself slipping into it like a lazy habit. Especially now that she is doing everything "by myself! by myself! Sophie do it!" --especially when she goes all day, even out and about, in panties -- it's too easy to blurt out some comment like "great job!" So this is my reminder to myself why we are so committed to avoiding this language trap. I vow to rout all "good jobs!" and other conditional statements from my vocabulary as much as I can.


Leslie said...

You heard that (good job, nice try etc) growing's hardwired in. Sorry! At the time we just knew to avoid the good girl/boy trap so that is easier because I'm pretty sure you never heard it (at least not from us!)

Leanne said...

Well, at the time you were hugely progressive :) Now I'm just a grade-grubbing praise-junkie :) Seriously, you guys did just fine by me. We're just trying to parent instinctively and intentionally. That's why I like the Kohn book, because it cuts through a lot of the stuff we take for granted from seeing it on TV and just around us, and reminds us of what we already wanted to really do, deep down.