I love thinking that challenges the going paradigm. It has been my personal experience that excessive punishment is an adult ego trip, and can traumatize children. I had to see early on in my exposure to my son in preschool how I was kind a falling into the same trap. The women at the center called me out about spanking my son, who had hit another boy his age.
It was a real epiphany: How was I supposed to teach him not to hit, when I was hitting him?
Now with this article by Alfie Kohn (I have not researched this person, but like the fact that in his/her credits allowance is freely made to use the article, except when formal publication and money comes into play). I got a lot out of this.
My main goal is to raise a well balanced, intelligent, self motivated child to adulthood. I don't want the same dysfunctional parenting I got. So, I have to learn how to "do it right." I will comment on the major sections of the article:
1. Manipulating children: Unfortunately I am in the position of knowing acutely that a child can be used as a pawn, and have his feelings, thoughts, and actions hijacked by an adult. Much of this is beyond my control, and I can only be there to reinforce his independence as a unique person. I wanted his to do “Hooked on Phonics” after a bike ride. He can in and turned on the TV automatically. There was a “battle of wills.” Upon further questioning, it was made clear to me that he does not get to watch the fun shows at home because there is no TV. I know that if I concede, when he is ready he will do the work. He go to watch Blues Clues, as I read and type this. I don’t want to be “right”, at the expense of my child enjoying his summer. The shows are educational, flashy, and musical, which I sort of enjoy too.
2. Creating praise junkies. AKA creating a “people pleaser.” This has been a major dysfunction in my life. Whereas I would like him to be conscientious, there is a point where the importance of others coming before self is detrimental.
3. Stealing a child’s pleasure. See topic 1 for example. I saw a elderly woman recently scolding and terrifying a 2 years old at a fast food restaurant this week, whilst the apparent teenage mother stood by on the side observing “parenting.” I almost lost a gasket, and wanted to say something—but I’m learning to mind my own damn business.
4. Losing interest. Perhaps this is the phenomena with my son regarding “Hooked on Phonics.” I still will not give up, because it helps with his reading comprehension, productive script, and other skills, but I don’t want to “beat him over the head with it” in my ego trip.
5. Reducing achievement. In my experience when I make it fun, and not something “heavy” (some of those kids stories have adult themes—like racism, etc.) he’ll come around.
The conclusion of the article speaks for itself regarding praise:
“And what can we say when kids just do something impressive? Consider three possible responses:
* Say nothing.
* Say what you saw.
* Talk less, ask more"
Hi Mike, I would like to thank you for your frank reply. It shows how serious you are about being a "different" parent. Have you looked into the Montessori method yet? I don't mean that each child has to go to a Montessori school, but there are quite a few concepts that work really well into parenting as well.
Your honesty is touching!
I have nothing to hide, and by expressing my experience it helps me to continue doing the things that I say I want to do. I have heard of Montessori education, but because of logics, expense, and dealing with the ex- he is going to a public school. We could have had him at a major University sponsored preschool program but, as usual, I got resistance from the other side becasue it was not convienent for her.
As much as possible I still make the home, and myself a resource for whatever he needs. I have meet with teachers, and principals to let them know although apart, I am just as much a part of his education and well being as mother. Any program will work, if the parents stay involved with what is occuring with the child. Men must not give up on their children just because the mother is disagreeable. It is important that the child(ren) know that he can be counted on with the same degree of regularity in instances where he does not have majority time share.
drmike said: Men must not give up on their children just because the mother is disagreeable.
Sounds simple and straightforward... but is a statement packed with potential conflict. I admire your conscious commitment to parenting... and understand its more complex than whether or not to praise. I agree that praise should not become a mindlessly repeated mantra, but it has its place. An attaboy now and then is good for the soul.
It seems a common theme throughout parenting articles is for parents to be mindful of their own motives and emotions.
Gotta tell ya Mike... I really like reading a post after you, cuz your such an organized thinker... creating lists and outlines... now I know... don't read the whole article - just wait till mike does and read his notes.
Let's get a drum roll going for Jeanne! <**Tah dum dum**>
Seriously though, this is a situation that IS packed with REAL conflict for mom, dad, and minor(s). However, my viewpoint is that the non-custodial parent should spend time doing conflict resolution up front, so as to prevent the child from developing years of recalitrant resentment against the absent parent. It is harder for men to be part of the lives of children due to a multitude of factors which include legal bias against them. Children are a gift, and blessing, and they give it all that back to you exponentially when you love unconditionally.
yes, of course, the conditioning into low self-esteem and the need for outside reinforcement starts very early. Thank God, Montessori programs are available from preschool onward to provide some sort of balance.
also, glad you're noticing Jeanne, for you cannot change what you do not acknowledge (notice, realize...etc)... perhaps your granddaughter and you can notice together? Every situation has potential for increasing awareness and become a learning process, even Sesame Street ;)