Flatter The Children Not

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I'm tired of this underhanded ploy marketing folks use to show up in my "comment" areas. But that's the power of compliments, and they know it. Admiring words titillate the soul and lure us to submit to the power of the one uttering them. They're a key tool in leadership. We're counseled by parenting gurus to use praise instead of put-downs to motivate and get results.

But here's some wisdom from Minna Atrim that parents and blog-marketers alike should ponder: "Between flattery and admiration there often flows a river of contempt." Kids build a dam in their souls against any overpowering gushing; they know the difference between a flood of saccharine flattery and a cold glass of truthful praise.

In his article, "Poisoned Carrot," Australian psychologist Robin Grille provides a tip about praise to keep us on the right track:

Use "I" statements. For instance: "I like the colors you chose!" or "I love how you sang that song!" instead of "What a good drawer you are!" or "Wow! You're a good singer!" An "I" statement keeps you from holding a position of power over your child. It creates an honest and fulfilling connection between you while not interfering with their experience of themselves. Imagine your child has just played you a new piece she has learned on the piano. Instead of saying: "What a good player you are!" you could tell her how much you enjoyed the piece. Better still, be specific. Tell her what in particular you liked about her playing (e.g. the passion or emotion, the beautiful melody, how carefully she played, her sense of rhythm, etc.)

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