I was reading NurtureShock last week, approximately six years behind everyone else, and something stuck out for me. The concept of praise.
I am a praiser and a praisee. I don’t think I’m a praise junkie exactly but there are things I do more for the praise and recognition than for the joy of them. (What kinds of things? Um, I can’t think of any offhand, but I’m sure there’s something.)
The research says –I am too lazy to cite here– that when we praise for ability instead of effort, what we get is children who only feel successful as long as they are praised, or until their ability ceases to exist. If we praise for effort, we get children who want to make an effort because the reward is the same; whatever that effort’s reward would have been anyway.
So “you’re so smart” is not as effective as “I like how you tried the question over and over until you found the answer.”
It makes sense. Even as an adult, what can you say to a compliment like “You’re so tall! I wish I was tall!” Yep. Tall. I had nothing to do with it.
Yesterday I opened up this comment page and found I had been comment-bombed by Allison. Allison, who is witty and compassionate and a true blue internet friend that I hope to meet someday. She went back and read something like fourteen posts and left comments on them, many of which had no previous comments at all, and it was this warm blanket of happiness around my shoulders when I saw it. “Oh someone is reading,” I thought, “someone IS reading. Someone is CARING. Someone likes what I say.”
Now, I said I would write 100 blog posts in 100 days and I missed one day I think so far but I never said I would stop if no one commented. I love comments, we all love comments, but I find it hard to find the time to comment on all the blogs I used to read / still read. I get it. It’s part of the give and take of blogging; we write for ourselves and others and we read to connect with those others and some days there just isn’t time to write and read and comment and make dinner.
As I work on effectively praising my children so they don’t give up when faced with algebra someday, I’m trying to also be more conscious of how I talk to myself, and how I rally my internal support system. without waiting for someone to tell me I’m great, they like me, they approve.
So: no comments! I want to keep going without your support!
(Just kidding. But no pressure. Not that you were feeling any, probably. It’s the end of June and we’re all tired. I know.)
(As you were)