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  • saying "thank you"

    I've recently read "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn, and I definitely agree with all the major points he makes. The section on praise was especially interesting to me, as I feel I was raised to be a "praise junkie" and me own knee-jerk reaction to just about everything DS (24 months) does or says is "great!" or "wow!". I suppress all these comments and try to describe what he did or say nothing etc...but I have a question about saying "thank you" to him - if it could have the same effect on him that praising him could because I think I sometimes say thank you as a way to slightly manipulate him in the same way praising him would. That is, he does something that makes my life easier and I say "thank you" - I am careful to say it in a casual, non-excited, non-praising tone of voice, just as I would thank anyone else for making my life easier in some way (for example, handing me something I asked him to give me) so in that way, I am treating him as I would anyone else (any adult or child) but part of me is probably thanking him to try to reinforce him obedience and I hope he is not picking up on that in any way.....any ideas about this? I try not to over-do the thanking either but in general I think I tend to thank people a lot (as well as apologize a lot). Well, would love to hear any feedback on this. Thanks. Oh, also, now he says "thank you" to me every time he gives me something (perhaps an indication that I have been thanking him too much or just another instance where he is imitating me/what I usually say in that situation - something he tends to do a lot...

  • #2
    HI there ... I love this book too. I try try not to praise.. although other family members do... but there you go.


    With the Thank You, I remember reading, that saying thank you is fine, you are not judging the child in any way. Also, I remember is saying that you can describe how it helped... oh, this saved me from picking up the toys, or it saved me putting the banana peel in the trash... etc. There is no "good job, good girl/boy, or you are sooo helpful!" they hear how it helped and then they make their own mind up about how that was useful or not. I second guess myself all the time and sometimes, as I human, slip in to the over thanking but don't worry, the premise is there!


    xxxx best wishes

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    • #3
      I LOVE Kohn, and I'm very familiar with his work. That said...I say thank you to my kids all the time! I think it's a great substitute for blanket praise...those times when you want to acknowledge their effort without getting into the specifics and details of what exactly you notice/ appreciate about it, "Thank you," is a great place to start. It's a very different message than, "good boy/ girl." And it even allows you elaborate if you want to: "Thank you for..." Or just leave it at "Thanks."

      I also think it's OK to get excited about children's achievements with a "wow" or a "yay" or a "you did it!" You are genuinely excited for them and you're teaching them to be excited for themselves! Again, that's not the same as an enthusiastic but very generic "good job!". You're celebrating with them, not rewarding them with verbal praise.

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      • #4
        I think Thank You is a wonderful thing to tell our children. I don't view it as praise, but a general nicety. I tell my daughter Thank You all the time when she has done something that is helpful. I think it does reinforce behavior, the same way it does when you tell anyone. If I thank you for helping me you feel like wow you appreciated what I did, I'm willing to do that again. I love that my daughter Thanks me all the time to, which I really like. She will thank me for making her dinner, or thank us for getting her coat or her milk etc. It feels good to receive a thank you, and I think the only way to instill a sense of gratitude in our children is to model it. Why shouldn't we thank them for making our lives easier. I don't think Thank You is a word used enough in our world.

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        • #5
          I think the issue is manipulation. If you feel like it would be manipulative to say it, then don't. If you are genuinely grateful for what she has done, tell her. This is often the hair that gets split over Kohn. I don't think he means you can't genuinely express yourself, it's just that so many of us have been manipulated by praise that we don't even recognize when we're doing it to others. So the answer lies within you. You are the best judge of whether you are being your true self.

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          • #6
            Thank you! Very reassuring responses. I guess (used consciously) "thank you" is not a "bad" word after all!

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            • #7
              I also think it's perfectly fine to say thank you. Would you not say thank you to an adult who helped you? Of course not, so you wouldn't want to treat your child with less respect than you would give any adult.

              I agree with Kelly that getting excited over your child's accomplishments, is acceptable as well. I think it reinforces to them the fact that they did accomplish something and that builds self esteem and confidence.

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              • #8
                Thank you! I really appreciate all the feedback on this issue. Good to hear opinions about getting excited over your child's accomplishments, too. After reading Kohn's book, I was beginning to think I should never say "wow" again! Just posting this thread has made me more aware of when I say "thank you" and it's true, I say it to him in situations where I would also say it to an adult, so there's nothing wrong with that! We've recently moved to a place where there is no LLL and no AP support group of ANY KIND so I really, really appreciate all the replies to the various threads I've posted recently!!!!

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                • #9
                  i haven't read the whole book yet (Unconditional Parenting), but i am familiar with the philosophy and i agree with it. i also believe that philosophies like this need not be taken to the extreme in order to receive some or all of the benefit. for example, "YAY!!!! You just ate your dessert! (ice cream)" or "WOW! Look at you! You just walked across the room! (to a kid who's been walking for a year)" are, to me, over-praising or empty praise. however, "Whoa! You just read your first word! Awesome! How do you feel? Are you proud of yourself?!!" or "Yay! You just walked across the room! (to an 11 month old who just took his first steps)" or "Hooray! You just ate broccoli! (to a kid who hasn't eaten anything but pizza and chicken nuggets for the past 6 months)"--these types of things seem perfectly natural and acceptable to me, because they are genuine reactions from genuine feelings for genuine accomplishments. i think one of the wonderful parts of the human experience is celebrating with each other. it's the empty, disingenuous, or manipulative praise that should be eliminated, for sure, so that the real praise will actually mean something to them. to me, the whole "thank you" thing falls into the manners category. like anything else, go ahead and model for her the manners you want her to end up having; i don't see anything wrong with that.

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                  • #10
                    I think that Thank you is some instances is fine, if it genuine as others have said. If you want to make you child feel more connected you may say something like "You cleaned up your toys! That really helped out the family" to have your child see they are valued and connected to the fam. That would make it less about your possible manipulation and more about being a cooperative part of the unit. Just got that idea from Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline.

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