Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Parenting Practice:: Lesson #1-Praise

Matt and I have a lot of ideas and opinions about how we want to parent and discipline our children. These are ideas that we have been stewing on for about 4 years now (since I started nannying and learning really). Now that we really are about to become parents and have been reading a lot of articles and books; really doing our research, we have been able to both apply our new parenting techniques in our regular life. Matt spends Tuesdays with Maclin and I love when he comes home and he tells me how we was able to apply certain techniques to his time with Mac. In my job, teaching kids every single day, I have been getting some great practice in as well. 

**I am in no way a child expert (at least according to my lack of degree) but for being a first time mom-to-be, I have spent more time with children of all ages than most other first-time-moms. As I begin to learn and practice these parenting techniques, I will write about them in hopes that they will be helpful to other moms who read my blog.**

One of the things that is really important to us (Matt & I) is that our children know we are proud of them, but without over praising them. I was over praised my whole childhood, which was fabulous (as a kid). As an adult, in day to day life, not receiving constant praise was difficult for me. I had constant feelings of not being good enough. It has been a huge struggle for me in my adult life. One that has taken a lot of time to cope with and re-learn for me. Big point is that it is super important to us that we do this "right". (If that is even such a thing). Really, we want to be conscious of how and when we are giving our children praise to make sure as adults they have a healthy base to sit on. We want them to grow up having an ability to self praise; to be able to know within themselves when they are doing a good job and when they need to work a little harder.

Here is an example of the problem I (and many others...as I hear everyday listening to other parents) find ourselves in often:

During each of my dance classes, my little ones do leaps and jumps down a line over little rubber stars that I have. Each child goes one at a time doing their leaps or jumps. In the past, I would say, "Good job, _____!" for each child who would go. I would also find myself saying "Great leaps!" 

Now really...what does that mean? Good job for what? For trying? For jumping high? For their legs being straight? 


Most of the time, their legs are not straight and their jumps are not high, yet I would still say, "Great leaps!"
It's kind of a lie. A healthy lie? But still, a bit of a lie. I had a feeling within myself to make sure the kids knew I was proud of them. I had been going about it the wrong way. 

So instead, I have put into practice watching each child intently and finding what they did well while it was their turn and then commenting on that.
Ex. "Olivia, your legs were very straight, you did that well!"..."Harley, you were trying so hard when you did your leaps, it's good to try hard!" (Still said in my same excited tone I use with them). Today I found my kids taking an extra look at me when I told them these things. They felt a feeling of accomplishment still, probably even more. I did not tell Harley her leaps were good, I instead commented on her effort (which in my opinion is ubber important). 

I also made sure to comment on other things throughout my classes such as creativity. 
Today in the same said preschool class, we did an activity where I have the children squat down low and then on the count of 3, we make our bodies into a letter of the alphabet.
I was sure to comment on the children's use of creativity.
Ex. "Sanika, the way you decided to sit on the ground to make an 'L' instead of standing up was very creative." Big smiles happen when they hear that I noticed things that they had done. Most of the time, I commented on things that they themselves did not realize they had done, which in turn made them even more proud of themselves.

These are techniques that are not easy to apply. It is going to take a lot of time and concentration for me to remind myself to focus on the details instead of a "good job" big picture. With time, it will become natural for me. Hopefully by the time our children are old enough to understand us (which we both strongly believe is from day 1 and quite honestly, we talk to Bean as if he/she is already able to hear us). 

I am really enjoying learning and am looking forward to my next lesson (while still working hard on this one of course).
If you are interested in learning along with me, one of the books I am currently reading is called "Superbaby". I am taking it with a grain of salt as a lot of her techniques I do not agree with (especially when it comes to discipline..as we will be a little more strict) but, overall it is a great book. 

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