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Taking WOW out of our dictionaries

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Ramona has found the word WOW. It spirals out of her mouth, as she opens her jaws wide, the WOW taking over her whole scrunched up face. Unlike other little kids Ramona takes a new word and hones her skill. Instead of picking them up and tossing them round, she’ll discover it and repeat it for three days straight. It will be the last thing she says at night, and the first thing on her lips in the morning. We are hearing WOW alot and it is really most adorable! 

The words she says are often the things she loves – so duck and clip clop (horse, yeah?) came pretty quick, but she also is a bit of a reflection of ourselves – a great resounding HIYA was her first audible a utterance. I didn’t think my Welsh genes revealed themselves that often but hearing Ramona trundle around saying HIYA at every opportunity has corrected that thought! Just yesterday Ramona was having a leetle bit of a tantrum on the floor when our housemate walked past – Ramona paused bawling  to yell out a very polite and cheerful HIYA, and then carried on.

So with her bopping about  WOWing everything, I have realised just how much I say it myself.

And I’m not sure I want to.

Particularly when it comes to the things Ramona does.

I haven’t read much on the subject, just enough to open that old Parenting Can O Worms, but I feel praise has gotten away with us a little. (One article that made me think was by Naomi Aldort and Aptly named “Getting out of the Way”- do read it, if you have moment.)

We are told to praise our children at every step, and I hear adults crying “Aren’t you clever!” at the most simple of things kids do. Here are my jumbled thoughts on the matter:

  • I don’t want her to learn to do things in order to get affirmation from someone else.
  • I want her to do things for the sake of enjoyment.
  • I want to give her creativity free reign- to not put my judgement (good or bad) on her activities and drawings.
  • I don’t want to use words to manipulate her into doing the things I want her to do.
  • Want her to be absolutely assured of my love no matter what her actions are
  • Want to be interested in the things Ramona does – I want her to sense my enthusiasm and care.
I love the image of our children marching to the beat of their own drum, growing up assured in their own imagination and hopes, not bumping around on the words of other people. Nurturing this kind of person begins now I think,  as we put our own WOWing aside.

As Aldort puts it “Getting out of the way gives us an opportunity to become curious observers. At the same time, it frees us of power struggles and initiates an approach to parenthood that is infinitely more enjoyable and fulfilling.”

We are trying to hold back on giving her constant praise, or saying “Clever/ Big/ Good girl” in order to get her to finish her dinner (or something). 

I need to find alternatives though! To show that interest, and to avoid manipulative talk, I need to dig around for what else I say. I am definitely going to try and reserve WOW for being awestruck by a forest, an ocean or a sky full of stars, rather than Ramona climbing up a frame or doing a wee on the potty.

Hmmmm. Are you trying to do this? What do you do? What do you think about it all? You can be totally honest, our family is. My mum is a hoot – Ramona will sit on a chair and mum will say “CLEVER GIRL!” then look at me, then back to Ramona with “I mean; how does this make you FEEL??!!”

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