The rules of
parenting are complex. One day, you're a fool for praising your child when they
do something right. The next, you are mother of the year.
Well, which is
According to Sue
Westwood, the author of new research from De Montfort University in the U.K.,
"Improved behaviour and wellbeing can result simply from ensuring that a
child's positive actions are rewarded with praise."
were recruited from children's centers and universities and asked to take part
in a 4-week study. Participants were given questionnaires to complete and instructions
on how to praise their child effectively. In turn, the child’s behavior was monitored
and later analyzed.
Those who succeeded in catching the good behavior and offering the prescribed praise saw an improvement in the
child's well-being when compared to a control group.
the five praises initiative," Westwood said, "led to improved behavior
as well as reduced levels of hyperactivity across just a four week period. This
simple, cost effective intervention shows the importance of effective parental
praise and, when used on a regular basis, it has been shown to have a
Huh. Well, that's great! But where are the five f—ing phrases and why hasn’t anyone shared them with us yet? Because we all know from past studies, praise
is like medication: Take too much and you might end up getting sick (i.e.,
becoming a narcissist) or becoming unmotivated. No one sets out to raise overly/underly confident children.
So, how do we
(parents) ensure this never happens?
But where are the five f—ing phrases and why hasn’t anyone shared them with us yet?
The answer: Be
careful what you say, how often you say it and make sure your kid is old enough
to make sense of it all.
Is that too
vague? No problem. Here’s a cheat-sheet
to hold us over until someone jumps
off the terminology wagon and shares that five-phrases secret. So instead of saying, ""You're a good counter Libby," say "You're excited about doing counting today Libby," or instead of "You caught the ball Libby, you deserve a star," say "You tried to catch the ball three times Libby, you seem pleased that you did so well." You know, for starters!
In the meantime,
remember your grains of salt and abundance of forgiveness to yourself. As parents, it's also our job to weed through opinions,
polls, statistics and research to find out what works best for our families. That is a
process that includes messing up and starting over again and again and again.
So good job! Gold star! You're way better than all the other moms that I know.