Praise as sickly-sweet candy

praise is like candy, encouragement like apples. Encouragement is one of the best ways to see the positive in children and other people. Encouragement is the best way to teach - discipline - children. Children respond to encouragement. Praise is extrinsic motivation. encouragement is used by savvy parents. Parents who know how to relate to people use encouragement. encouragement gives courage.

Photo by Bill Longshaw

When I had four children in seven years, this is how I kept my sanity.

1. Help — from hubby, house cleaners, preschool, teen sitters, family and parenting groups. I didn’t need a play group. I had my own!

2. One consistent approach to child rearing that I learned at parenting groups. This is what I now teach and speak on.

3. ENCOURAGEMENT. More than anything else, learning the art of encouragement empowered me to better manage my tribe of little people.

Encouragement is recognizing effort made, noticing the positive, taking baby steps towards a goal, noting specific attributes. It’s low key.

Encouragement is like an apple — full of fiber and vitamins, sweet juicy and crisp but not too sweet, satisfying, versatile, provides long-term benefits.

The evil twin of encouragement is praise — which many parents use to communicate & motivate children.

Praise is like candy — provides a HIGH followed by a low and craving for more. It will rot your teeth and brain and put on the pounds.  It’s a sweet and addictive high-energy drug. Praise feels good temporarily and is not sustainable.

The biggest problems with praise are as follows.

1. It’s addictive, just like candy.

2. Praise can only be given AFTER success — versus encouragement, which can be given after failure.

A parent can never says “I’m so proud of you for coming in last place in the race.” An encouraging parent can say, “It took a lot of courage for you to keep going and finish the race. That’s an accomplishment.”

3. It’s extrinsic motivation. Children work for praise and external reward. Encouragement provides internal — intrinsic — motivation.

Encouragement requires more thought and involvement in the effort or achievement. Encouragement is about the deed, not the doer. Encouragement is NOT about how it makes the parent look and feel.

Parenting skills workshops taught me the art of managing people by using encouragement, natural and logical consequences and family meetings. By far, the most powerful technique is encouragement. See my tip sheet at right on encouragement for more ideas.

Give me a bushel of apples any day over a bag of candy.

apples are sustainable and healthy unlike candy. Apples- encouragement, candy- praise. Disciplining children is TEACHing children. Discipline is the art of management.

Photo by Paul.

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