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Unconditional Parenting--not giving Praise Etc

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  • Unconditional Parenting--not giving Praise Etc

    Hello, I am trying to focus some of the discussion from the 'Questions about positive discipline' thread.'
    Lets discuss Kohn and the other authors with similar writings.

    One of the most challenging parts for me from "Unconditional Parenting" is the sports and school parts. Intellectually I really agree with him, that competition is divisive, but am unable to commit to changing the system or starting a new life away from the establishment (public schools --mainstream sports and activities) My husband is a school teacher and loves baseball! I think when a lot of people read that book, that part turns them off of the whole idea of totally respecting your children in a Kohn manner. They think, "how could I possibly do this yet still watch the game and go to the 7th grade graduation, this won't fit in my life."

  • #2
    I don't know about this, we give our son praise and he LOVES praise. I think some kids like it more than others honestly. When he's naughty, although we say it it's usually obvious we're not happy with what he's done.

    We do tend to use the term "big boy" vs good boy. But I think praise is in our voices just like annoyance is . It's had to eliminate 100%

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    • #3
      Well what child doesnt love praise from Mama? The issue is---- it is good for them, does it help them, and how does it affect your relationship.
      Here is an article (if you have not read the book yet.)

      http://www.alfiekohn.org/parenting/gj.htm
      Here are some other articles by Kohn http://www.alfiekohn.org/articles.htm#null

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      • #4
        I read the book, I guess I just didn't see his point as far as MY child. My son has AS so he's different to most. The praise makes him so happy. And I think it's a positive reinforcement, at least for MY child.

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        • #5
          I am talking more of theory, not your or any particular child. Can you respond from that different level?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by naomifrederickmd View Post
            I am talking more of theory, not your or any particular child. Can you respond from that different level?
            I think it's hard to get rid of all language that could be used as bad/good. I think kids sense when we're happy or upset with their actions even if we don't use the words.

            I think his theory will help some parents look at how the approach praise, but I just myself don't buy into it being right for everyone.

            Like many different parenting styles, some work for some and others work for others.

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            • #7
              it's been a LONG time since i read kohn's 'punished by rewards' and 'schools our children deserve'. i'd need to go back to them to get his stance, but i have a few thoughts.

              Originally posted by naomifrederickmd View Post
              They think, "how could I possibly do this yet still watch the game and go to the 7th grade graduation, this won't fit in my life."
              i agree, this would be a struggle. whenever we give up our parenting authority to others, be it babysitters, grandma, teachers, etc., we lose the comfy place of being able to completely filter our children's influences. however, i don't think that it should change our beliefs or influence our own behaviors toward our children. so just b/c your child's teacher is a sticker chart fanatic, doesn't mean you need one at home.

              what i think you may have to change is increasing dialogue w/your children about these other influences, the positives and negatives, discuss your values, and focus on your RELATIONSHIP. i think the conversation w/sports would have to focus on your child's worth as a person, not on performance, you're proud, win or lose, etc.

              Originally posted by PoshMama View Post
              I don't know about this, we give our son praise and he LOVES praise.
              i think here it would be helpful to try to discover why he loves it so much. what need does it fulfill?

              i am a special ed. teacher of children on the spectrum. i don't believe in the theory that AS kids should be treated more pavlovian than others. i believe they are need-seeking just as much as the rest of us. but alas, that discussion is probably better moved to our "Special Needs" forum.

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              • #8
                From an intellectual point of view, I understand and agree with some of what Kohn has to say in his book Unconditional Parenting. In all practicality, with my experience and experience with children, my own logic/reasoning, and etc, I really do disagree with the whole "problem with praise" ideas.

                I like praise, thanking and appreciation as an adult. Especially when things have been particularly hard. But I do not do things to get the praise, thanks, or appreciation. I was praised a lot as an only child and sometimes did feel my parents wouldn't be proud of me if I didn't get good grades since my dad put so much stock in that.

                For very young children who are constantly bombarded with their own physical and verbal limitations, I find it to be so difficult and so challenging, that some praise can really go a long way in helping them boost themselves up out of the "I can't" they seem to experience so much from the time they begin walking to becoming fully verbal. I avoid good/bad labels when possible and try to maintain a more neutral language in my praise ie saying with a big smile and excited voice "Wow, you just climbed that whole ladder yourself!" instead of "Good boy! You did a great job climbing." My mom and ILs like to say the "Good boy" label a lot, I'd rather they be more specific than that. I'm also guilty of dancing around for my son and singing the "You did it" song which I stole and modified from Dora the Explorer when he does something he was working very hard at (like his mural on our bathroom wall) or putting his shirt on for the first time.

                For preschoolers and on, I still feel there is value and merit in recognition of a job well done. But there is a fine line to walk between not recognizing enough, recognizing and praising to the point of patronizing, and then praising when no praise is due (ie they are 6 and they help set the table as a routine chore).

                I like to praise not for what you should do anyway (a simple thank you is enough), but for what you do when it is above and beyond (like when my hubby cleaned the downstairs all by himself without me asking while I was gone).

                In regards to real competitive things such as sports, I do think it is important to give some praise to help your child when they are feeling discouraged. Praising even when they lose, because they still worked very hard and surely they did contribute something worth wild in the child's eye. If the child didn't, you can ask them what was going on too. But also letting the child know you are proud of them, even when they're best efforts do not lead to a direct success.

                Great idea Naomi! I love talking this stuff.

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                • #9
                  April you sure your pregnant? I thought all of that too but prego brain stopped me from writing it as well as you!
                  I think you need some praise for that

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by apelilae View Post
                    "Wow, you just climbed that whole ladder yourself!" instead of "Good boy! You did a great job climbing."
                    i would not qualify the first statement as praise, although some would call it "descriptive praise". the second definitely is. these are two completely different things, imo. the first, you simply describe what you see, you don't qualify it w/"good", "nice", etc. the second is a judgment and really kind of silly. i mean, what would it look like to do a "bad job" climbing?

                    i think it may be helpful to back this conversation up a little bit. what we are really discussing here is communication. praise communicates certain things. the trouble w/it is that it may communicate something entirely unintended by the speaker. for example, you may be really proud of and excited for your kid and blurt out "i love your artwork! it's so beautiful!" and your kid may hear "my mom loves me b/c i make pretty pictures."
                    etc., etc., etc.

                    so, i tend to lean more towards trying to use non-violent communication. it involves getting to the real need behind behaviors, interactions, dialogue. the premise is that ALL communication is an attempt to get needs met. therefore, i would ask the ?s "why do i like giving praise?" "why does my son like it so much?" "what needs are being met?" "are those needs being met or merely temporarily satisfied?"

                    if a child is constantly craving praise, then the praise isn't meeting his need, it leaves him wanting more. if an adult feels compelled to give it, what need w/in the adult is met? is it an attempt to connect w/the child?
                    these are just a few of the many ?s to try to decipher the heavy code of communication.

                    Originally posted by apelilae View Post
                    I like to praise not for what you should do anyway (a simple thank you is enough), but for what you do when it is above and beyond (like when my hubby cleaned the downstairs all by himself without me asking while I was gone).
                    so in the above, i would not praise my husband for cleaning, i would say, "thank you for picking up the house. i was tired and did not feel like doing it today. i felt relieved to come down here b/c now i can meet my need to rest." this language is deeper and communicates that a need was met. it is much more satisfying to both parties.

                    in the prior thread, brandy said:
                    Originally posted by b_light View Post

                    When I saw two moms with opposing viewpoints on praise discussing the finer points of their parenting philosophies all the while using a language of respect and care for each other, I felt thankful and appreciative because I was needing intellectual conversation about the finer points of gentle discipline and a safe place to discuss them.
                    this was so much more meaningful to me than "hey, great discussion!" it allowed me to feel understood and met my need to help others.

                    man, book here, but i'm just trying to say this: it's important to try and deepen our connections in all of our relationships and this is done through communication of needs. praise does not always (dare i say rarely?) meet this goal.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PoshMama View Post
                      April you sure your pregnant? I thought all of that too but prego brain stopped me from writing it as well as you!
                      I think you need some praise for that
                      Why thank you! I must confess... I got a great night's sleep last night with my Liam being at my mom's. I guess I'm running on all cylinders unlike usual!

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                      • #12
                        Jumping in a little late to this discussion but I just joined this board and was very happy to see people discussing Alfie Kohn. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one trying to take it easy with the praise.

                        I tend to use statements like the aforementioned "Wow, you just climbed to the top of the ladder". Though, I think depending on the delivery, they can be a sort of "cloaked praise". My bottom line is to not let any enthusiastic extollations I make about my children's behaviour be with the aim to change their future behaviour.

                        Looking forward to more discussions.

                        Jessica

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                        • #13
                          I'm also delighted to see this being discussed here too....I try to avoid praise too with my 10 month old. I find that sometimes I praise automatically without thinking (sometimes I just feel so excited when he does something new) but really do make an effort to censor myself. Today I was in a baby swim class with him and we were told to blow bubbles in the water and praise our child if he tried to copy us. I felt a bit uncomfortable with it but wasn't going to explain my theories in the middle of class! In hindsight I could have just described what he was doing as in 'oh you are blowing bubbles!'

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