After being bullied into reading Nurtureshock by PO Bronson and Ashley Merryman–you know who you are–I’m finding myself nodding along while I read. I aim to keep these brief, but I can’t promise I won’t rant at some point along the road.
I completely agree with Part I: The Inverse Power of Praise:
Sure, he’s special. But new research suggests if you tell him that, you’ll ruin him. It’s a neurological fact.
This is one of the pervasive problems with American culture today. This doesn’t mean that you should never complement your child, but you should do it the right way. If a child grows up hearing that everything he or she touches is perfect, how will that child deal with something that he or she does that isn’t perfect? If your child is absolutely tone deaf, don’t tell her she’ll be the next Tony Award Winner
This is what I call “.” Watch the first few weeks of the program and tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about. How many people have gone on National Television and made a complete fool of themselves. I’m not talking about the people who are on that borderline and just need a little more practice (see my next paragraph), I’m talking about those who have no chance, even with pigs soaring above, of being anything more than something at which America just shakes its head (“She Bangs,” anyone?). Most of these people have never been told they can’t do something. I know that I will never be an astronaut, mathematician, astrophysicist. That’s OK. That doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams or goals, most within my reach, some that I’ll strive to attain throughout my life. Don’t just tell your child that their poo doesn’t stink!
As a teacher, I’ve been astonished in some situations where, when confronted with a bad grade, or something more serious, I’ve had parents look me in the eye and tell me that their child couldn’t do that, or even turn around and accuse me of being “out to get” their child, when cheating was discovered. Believe me, that doesn’t help a child. Yes, be there when your child falls, but how else will he learn from mistakes?
Instead, encourage greater effort, praise aspiration, invention, innovation. Steer your child in a direction that is attainable, encourage her to push boundaries and stretch her abilities:
Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control…they come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.
A child who grows up believing he can achieve anything just by wanting to (thanks, Disney), will be disappointed.
I want to win the Nobel Peace Prize because I really, really want peace. Gimme!
P.S. See how I didn’t rant? Worked well, huh? 😉