Saturday, January 16, 2010

Positive Discipline Tool Card - Encouragement vs. Praise

Teach self-reliance instead of dependence on others.

Encouragement invites self-evaluation.
Praise invites children to become “approval junkies”.
Praise: “I am so proud of you. Here is your reward.”
Encouragement: “You worked hard. You must be so proud of yourself.”
Praise: You are such a good girl.”
Encouragement: “Thanks for helping.”

My kids and I discussed this tool card earlier today. My daughter had a very profound insight while we sat at the dinner table reading the card. She said "Yeah dad, if you give people a reward for doing something, they might not want to do it if they don't get the reward." I think that pretty much sums up this week's tool card. This week is all about learning the intrinsic value of accomplishment and teaching our children that sometimes it just feels good to help others, even if nothing is given in return. 

So how did everyone do on the "Listen" tool card? I have to admit that listening to my children...REALLY listening to my children was more difficult than I thought it would be. To be perfectly honest, it was exhausting! Since I am involving my children in this process, they knew that I was working on listening better this past week. And they took full advantage of that fact, talking to me in great detail about every random thing that popped into their heads. And when I tried to tune out, my son would remind me "Dad, you're supposed to be listening this week."


Anonymous said...

What a good one! And challenging as well. We have made this mistake with our first child- compounded by the fact that he has dyslexia- we have tried to help him overcome his sense of frustration and failure with way too much praise! We are working hard to change that and focus on the acts and hard work he puts into tasks/activities as we hope his confidence in himself will come from inside. AND we are much more aware not to make the same mistake with our second child!

Jane Nelsen said...

Enjoy your kids wanting you to listen while it lasts. It won't last. Eventually you'll be wishing they would tell you more. :-)

Laura Mansfield said...

Brad - We are loving following your journey. We have begun our own journey following in your footsteps and it has been great! Todd even took a picture of my son's routine chart a few weeks ago and will send it off. We worked on listening this past week as well. It was tough yet by the end of the week we learned that the more we listened the less our kids felt the need to talk incessantly! Now to focusing on encouragement versus praise. I am printing your blog to give it to my mom for that one! Good luck this week!

Single Dad Brad said...

Thanks Laura,
I have been listening to your radio show podcast (parentingunpluggedradio) and that has been giving me "Encouragement". Hearing your perspective always lifts my spirits.

Parenting Unplugged said...

Great to know you are listening and we are reading! The Village continues... Looking forward to having Jane on next Tuesday, January 26th.

Anonymous said...

Curious if you've read either the "One Minute Mother" ( or the "One Minute Father" by Spencer Johnson (of One Minute Manager fame). On first read there seems to be a lot of emphasis on praise and scolding ("one minute praisings" and "one minute reprimands")..but then on actually reading the book I found it handy to realize that what the author calls a "one minute praise" is actually "a one minute encouragement" because it's direct feedback on a "one minute goal" that was mutually agreed on. In fact the "one minute praise" is really just feedback about the current state of the activity that helps the child understand if they're on track and can only work if the child wanted to go to the goal in the first place and so doesn't replace intrinsic motivation - only supports it with the social motivation of parent as cheerleader. Another book I really enjoyed on this topic is "Influencer" ( by Kerry Patterson, et al. That talks about the impact of encouragement from the differentiated perspectives of "Social Motivation" and "Social Ability". Understanding the subtle differences between Encouragement vs Praise is really quite difficult. Even with trying to understand this in earnest via readings from multiple authors (including first being introduced to the topic by reading Positive Discipline) I must admit it's useful to have a week dedicated to the practice of the concept :-) So thanks!

The Oakville Pearsons said...

Here's an interesting video,"The Myth Of Praise" with Po Bronson, co-author of Nutureshock.

Anonymous said...

We had one additional learning this week very related to your daughter's insight earlier in the week.

Based on the routine card, we have had stunning two week running success on homework getting done without any hassle at all. The routine has accomodated scheduling changes and other bumps in the road well.

But interestingly, we unwittingly had a reward/praise attatched to it...because I was so happy each evening (and apparently full of priase) with the result, when my son asked for a treat, I complied. So imagine my surprise when a couple of days ago he proudly announced when I came home that he had done all his homework, so could he have the treat. My answer was "no", that the treat was not either an entitlement or a reward. It was an uncomfortable couple of hours, he felt almost betrayed I think...I did practice the listening card a lot and then found an appropriate fable to read to him to illustrate why it's always bad to expect treats. And so far, the rest of the week went without requests for treats - and the homework is still getting done.

Thanks for your daughter's insight - it alerted me to using praise rather than encouragement based on the symptom of expected reward. Without it, I would have hapily complied with the request for the treat when asked - because truth be told, I am proud of how much work he is putting into his homework and the progress he is making.