Friday, April 06, 2007

"I'm so proud of you"

Those of you on FlyLady are probably aware of her frequent "I'm so proud of you!"

Well, I don't like it.

I didn't like it as a child and adolescent and as an adult, I found others who felt the same way. I could never verbalize quite what it was until I read Alfie Kohn. I don't recall his exact words on it, but he helped me realize that this type of praise is actually detrimental: it takes a part of the accomplishment away and places it on the person giving the praise. Adults who accept this form of praise are seeking to have others tell them they're doing a good job instead of being able to see it for themselves, feeling the pride on their own. Children are the same way, except that children who seek this type of praise are also typically just seeking adult approval. They live to be approved of.

Isn't that sad? That the sense of worth is coming from somebody else's approval?

I know Maria Montessori wrote about lavishing the children with praise, but the type of praise she seemed to give was one that was focused on what the child had accomplished and not how pleased she was with whatever the child had done. And that's exactly where the child's focus should be: on what he has accomplished, not how others feel about it.

Writing that last sentence has me thinking about the other end of things: the parents who do give the "I'm so proud of you" praise, but then counteract it with disapproval of not reaching certain standards. Again, the focus for the child becomes parental approval and not self-approval. How is a child to decide if he's proud of his work, if he's truly done what he's capable of doing if really he's more concerned with what others will say? It'll paralyze some children, make them afraid of trying because if they don't try, at least they won't have any criticism placed on their work because there's nothing to criticize, right?

Just some thoughts on this Good Friday afternoon.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I don't care for the "I'm proud of you" stuff from Fly Lady either...however I do love her tips...the timer method has helped me tons!