How to talk so kids will listen… Chapter 5: Praise

This is an interesting chapter, especially for Americans who praise easily!
We French tend to do the opposite: focus on the negative…
But I think it is all the more interesting for a French, because with our tendency to focus on what is not right, we are really not good at developing self confidence in our children, as opposed to our transAtlantic friends!
In this chapter, we learn how to praise the right way, the way that help develop self-confidence!

The key: the description!

(Once again, to learn to describe is useful, I may come back to this part of the French program with Alice…)

Let’s imagine we use a very englobing praise, like « You draw so well! » or « What a good cook! »
Well, along with good feelings can come other reactions:
« Good thing she didn’t see my other drawing… »
« I’m not sure if next time will be as good… »
« She doesn’t have a clue! That drawing sucks! »
But if we only describe:
« You respected the symmetry pretty well in this drawing! », or « I like this blue you put here! »
Then the other one can praise himself from what he feels following this description, and build his own image of himself.
It even works without any expressed opinion, the child can find by himself what he likes.
If you observe for example: « you drew lines here. », you will probably get an answer in these lines:
« Yes, and there also. » or « Yes, because… » or « That’s his legs. »
Regardless of the answer, he will be happy about us noting a detail: it proves we really looked!

At home, it became:
« I said we were about to leave, and I find you all dressed up! »
« What a pleasure to see this living room all cleaned up! »
« Your list of things you needed was super clear, I really helped me! »
So: describe what you see, describe what it feels like.
Also if we want the child to link these attitudes with qualities, we can teach them to him, within need to apply them generally.
Ex: « You copied the whole list of vocabulary with not one mistake, this is what I call concentration! »
« You’ve already prepared your bag for tomorrow, this is being organized! »
In other words:
sum up the attitude in a word.

A few additional comments:

Don’t forget to convey the positive message of what we like.
The world we live in don’t encourage us to do so. There is an example in the book that I really like: when is it the we would think about telling someone: « Thank you for parking on the side, so there is room for a second car. »? Never !


Education by the example: accept your own mistakes
Rather than « I forgot my keys again, I’m so stupid! », so they learn to react the same way when they make a mistake; you could say, « I wish I had not forgotten my keys again… What can I do to make sure it doesn’t happen again? »
Strengthen the good to correct what needs improvement
This is not the first time that I read examples where highlighting what is well done is enough for the child to correct the rest, even if we don’t point it out explicitly.
Here’s an example of a child who writes badly, and to whom we comment: « Here your L is perfectly formed, and there the letters have exactly the right size » , who ends up fixing the rest little by little.
This is so unnatural for us French! And sure enough, I have yet to put it into practice, it is only now that I read it again that I remember.

To be filled in the « not yet integrated, to put into practice »!

Back to the book post


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