Archive for the ‘praise’ category

Difficult children respond to encouragement

March 19, 2012
Difficult children are often more intelligent. LEarning encouragement and positive psychology saved my relationship with ian. he is creative. Difficult children are often more creative and intuitive. Parenting is about learning to love children even when they are difficult.

Ian, 3, with his favorite dinosaur. Today at age 27, Ian teaches kite-boarding, is an organic farmer, and can play five instruments, including the fiddle, which he taught himself to play.

My son Ian was the third of our four children, born in just under seven years. At age 2, he was difficult: stubborn, vocal and committed to get what he wanted. I didn’t like him much.At seminars today, I describe Impossible Ian, how encouragement transformed our relationship, and how you, too, can learn the art of encouragement.

Another term for encouragement is “positive psychology,” pioneered by authors Martin E.P. Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

This book is about how to have a positive outlook on life without drugs and therapy. It will help you with parenting and work and love. I'm listening to it on cd, and love his approach. It's all about love and logic, adlerian, parenting tips, parenting advice."Martin E.P. Seligman" "Mihaly-Csikszentmihalyi" optimal experiences, flow, positive psychology, encouragement, family meetings, power of language, discipline, parenting: about,

"Flourish" by Martin E.P. Seligman is worth reading. I'm listening to it as a recorded book.

In “Flourish” Seligman presents research that shows positive comments must outnumber negative remarks by 3-to-1 for a company to succeed. For a marriage to succeed, the ratio must be a mind-boggling 5-to-1.If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it!

I teach parents to say something nice that will get kids to learn good judgment, the cause-and-effect of behavior choices, and nurture the parent-child connection.

The first task is to give up praise. I know this is heresy because Americans  give everyone a trophy for breathing so their precious self-esteem won’t suffer. This leads to what I call self-excess-teem, and young people with no work ethic because they want a standing ovation for showing up.

Here’s a comparison between praise and encouragement devised by parents in a workshop last week. You can see which one wins.

Encouragement might feel awkward at first. Practice self-encouragement — notice what you’re doing well — to get past the awkward stage. Remember it takes three weeks to establish a habit. This is a fun habit to learn that is useful for everyone in your life.

Praise                                             Encouragement

Similar to candy                                Similar to an apple

General                                               Specific

Given after success only                  Given anytime, including after failure

About how adults think/do/feel    About how children think/do/feel

Creates external motivation           Creates internal motivation

Hollow, insincere                              Authentic, descriptive

Promotes unrealistic self-beliefs   Nurtures genuine self-esteem

Obedience is the goal                       Questions actions/beliefs/authority

Patronizing                                         Respectful

High energy, excited                         Low-key, balanced

Exaggerated                                        True

Celebrates accomplishment only   Notices efforts made and progress

Highly verbal                                      Can be silent

What’s your encouragement score today with your kids and your spouse? Have authentic positive statements outweighed the negative? You can do it 🙂 And enjoy using encouragement. Start with yourself.

5 positive parenting resolutions for 2012

January 2, 2012
Act Don't Yak from "Dr. Sam Goldstein" is a fundamental principle for happy families. If you have a behavior problem with your toddler, preschooler, school age, tween , teen, teenager or adolescent, acting not yakking is a positive parenting resolution for 2012. You can do it. start with baby steps.
Act Don’t Yak is an easy-to-follow 2012 resolution.

NOTE: Join us at a Positive Parenting Seminar, “Act Don’t Yak” on Monday Jan. 9, 2012, 7-9 pm in Littleton. Click here for info.

“It’s so hard to make new habits,” parents say in my parenting seminars and private practice. It’s true — ANY new habit is challenging to establish and maintain.

Think of a habit as a groove on a record — yes, an old-fashioned LP. When you are stuck in a groove, the record keeps getting deeper as it replays itself. Parents sound like a broken record when they threaten, punish, praise, reward and spank. These negative parenting practices do NOT develop long-term good decision making, and they erode a parent-child relationship.

Take the lead from your kids and start with small steps. Rotate practicing one of the habits each week for three months. Write them out on index cards or 8 x 11 sheets as in the photo at left, and post them on your bathroom mirror as a reminder. They are deceptive simple, extremely effective and will bring results for tots-to-teens.

1. Have regular family meetings to connect, communicate, share the load of housework, empower children, and practice mutual respect. Set the goal of having them weekly, every-other-week or monthly. They create the foundation for everything you want your family and child to be.

2. Act don’t yak [Dr. Sam Goldstein]. This one habit can transform your family communication from horrendous to harmonious. Stop threatening, yelling and repeating. Say it ONCE and then take action. This applies to kids of all ages. Otherwise kids tune parents out and become mother-dear and father-deaf.

3. Be kind, firm and consistent. No one is perfect in this department. However, you can learn new language. “I’m sorry Brittany. I know you’d like to me to give you money to buy that XYZ. Remember at the family meeting we agreed that you would use your allowance to buy such things? I’m sure you can save up for it.”

4. Learn the art of encouragement, also known as constructive praise. GIVE UP using “I’m so proud of you,” which creates external motivation and can only be used after success. Start saying, “Well done! How do you feel about it?” “Look at what you did. Tell me about it.” Encouragement can be given after failure. Ask, “What did you learn?” “What would you differently next time?” Give them courage to try again and cultivate intrinsitic motivation.

5. Use natural and logical consequences that follow the three Rs-   Related, Reasonable and Respectful [Dr. Jane Nelsen]. Otherwise your kids will resort to the negative three Rs– Resentment, Rebellion and Revenge. These get uglier and more dangerous as children mature into teens and have more freedom.

See free tip sheets on encouragement, natural and logical consequences and family meetings, or order the book for reinforcement.

These positive parenting practices are built on a foundation of mutual respect — where everyone has rights and responsibilities and is treated with dignity. Mistakes are looked upon as opportunities to grow and learn NOT as reasons to punish. Accomplishments, pride and new skills belong to a young person — NOT to parents.

You can do it. Start small. Encourage yourself by noticing progress. Any progress is improvement. Comments always welcomed.

Encouragement is the fuel that powers children, tweens & teens

February 10, 2011

“A misbehaving child is a discouraged child,” and “A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water,” according to Rudolf Dreikurs, MD, an Austrian physician and child-whisperer.

When yelling, punishment and bullying my children failed, I started to read Dreikurs’ book, “Children, the Challenge,” published in 1960 with Vicki Soltz, RN.

It took months, even years, for me to experience how encouragement led to improved behavior and a more positive mother-child relationship.

Encouragement is preventative maintenance that is different from praise. Encouragement is like an apple; praise is like candy.

Apples — good for you, not too sweet, versatile, store well, natural, un-processed.

Candy — not so good for you, so sweet you can get a headache, a treat, gets stale, processed and usually laden with high fructose corn syrup and artificial preservatives and colorings.

A little praise every once in a while is okay. Daily overdoses of praise will give a child a headache, set up unrealistic expectations and teach her to perform for parents.

“Molly, I’m so proud of you for getting an A on that test!” Oh yeah, here’s another problem with praise. It can only be given after success. Encouragement is so potent that it can be given after failure.

“Alicia, You must be disappointed you didn’t make the travel soccer team. Do you want to sign up for a soccer camp or try another sport? You can also play town soccer.”

“Brian, these lemon squares are good. It doesn’t matter that you combined the topping and the crust. It’s hard to hurt homemade food. Can I have another one?”

“Alexa, you put away half of that mess you left in the family room. Good start. Do you need some help with the rest?”

Can you see that encouragement is specific and focused on the deed, not the doer. Praise is general and high-energy. Encouragement is low-key.

Some of my coaching clients report that their children cannot tolerate praise. They feel uncomfortable and mis-behave within 10 minutes after a sticky-sweet praise-ful overkill: “I’m so proud of you for finishing your homework before dinner.” Children and especially teens, don’t like to be seen as too good.

Children with ADD and ADHD can especially benefit from regular doses of encouragement, especially because encouragement acknowledges effort. Children with ADD/ADHD can also suffer from low self-esteem as a side-effect of their disorder.

Encouragement is a solid sustainable way to nurture a child’s self-esteem and promote the behavior you want to see in a youngster. It takes time and effort to learn and use. See my tip sheet on it.

I’ll be giving two workshops on Encouragement and ADD/ADHD Youngsters next week. Tuesday Feb. 15 at Roudenbush Community Center in Westford, Mass. and Thursday, Feb. 17 in Concord-Carlisle Adult Education. Both start at 7 pm and are in the Boston, Mass. area.

The how and why of encouragement is worth reviewing regularly and practicing daily. Hope to see you at a workshop.

By the way, “thank you” is a powerful form of encouragement. Just witnessing children is encouragement. Encouragement is just as potent when used on adults and in the workplace. It’s very versatile.

Use the crate when dogs and kids make bad choices

January 17, 2011
This is Lily in her crate, which she likes because she is contained. She gets a break. The crate is like a playpen -- it's safe place to go where you can play and not get into trouble. You can lie down take a nap and no one will bother you. You know what is expected of you. It can be a relief to go in there because it limits your choices. It's safe. Dog Crates and baby playpens are useful when TRaining Dogs and children to behave and to learn discipline. Toddlers, preschoolers, school-age, tweens, and teens can benefit from the "playpen" of their rooms. They can feel safe and contained. Sometimes they need to be restrained and have some time to think about their behavior. Sometimes parents need a break.

Lily goes to her crate voluntarily. It's like a playpen for a toddler or a teen's room. It's her space, a place no one can bother her, and she's safe. A crate is a wonderful place for a puppy.

I believe in using containment when training dogs and children. When Lily the puppy chews on a plant, I crate her with a chew toy. When a toddler puts a fork in an outlet, he goes into the playpen.  “Act, don’t Yak!”  [Dr. Sam Goldstein]  Dogs and children of all ages respond to action. They tune out lectures.

Dogs and tots-to-teens can benefit from containment in a crate, playpen or bedroom. They feel safe in their space. It provides contemplation time for parents and young people.

Even though I shepherded four teenagers through adolescence, I never grounded them as punishment. I did shorten their leash when they made poor choices. I didn’t let them use my car except to get to work.  I said, “You can have your friends over here while I am home” or “You can stay home with us tonight and watch ‘Lassie’ ” or another G-rated movie.

The trouble with grounding and using violent punishment to train a dog or child —  like yelling, berating, belittling and hitting  — is that it breeds revenge, resentment and rebellion. It shows children and dogs that bullying works to get others to do what you want. I used to think children had to feel pain and be punished to learn. I was wrong. They have to feel consequences to learn, but they don’t have to be violent.

Positive discipline always looks for the three Rs — related-respectful-reasonable  [Jane Nelsen Ph.D.] — in a natural or logical consequence. It works for dogs and humans. When Lily doesn’t come when she’s called, she gets put on the leash because she has demonstrated she can’t be trusted.

When young people show they can’t be trusted, their leash gets shortened. They must stay closer to home, in their room or playpen, where they can re-group and feel contained.

Dogs and kids both respond to encouragement, kindness, firmness and consistency. Children and dogs both want to please. When parents bully, children and dogs become bitter and mean. Then they feel hurt and want to hurt back their parents. They can become bullies and/or victims.

When Lily makes a good decision, I shower her with “good dog!” and lots of petting. Tots-to-teens respond to encouragement, too. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a good reminder to work on non-violent parenting skills. Parents, dogs and children can be trained in non-violent discipline.

Make a New Year’s resolution to practice encouragement

December 27, 2010

When I realized my parenting skills were making my children’s behavior worse instead of better, I made a commitment to learn a positive approach based on encouragement.

First, I had to admit that yelling, time-outs, punishment, spanking [yes, I have spanked and regretted it] reward and praise were bankrupt techniques to get my three children under age  4, to behave better.

My family environment changed when I learned how to use the art of encouragement. I discovered the four most powerful words in the English language- You can do it.

My children began responding differently to me. They began making better decisions. The need to yell, punish or praise, faded away.

Encouragement is different from its evil cousin of praise, which is extrinsically focused. Encouragement is intrinsically focused — on how the child thinks/does/feels, versus how the authority figure thinks and feels. 

Praise can only be used after success. I’ve never heard a parent say, “Meg, I’m so proud of you for coming in last place in the swimming race!” Instead, say, “Your stroke looked stronger. Did you improve your time?”

Notice that encouragement can be used after effort. “You have put away one truck. Can you pick up all the red trucks now?”

Or, on a test the teen failed, “You answered question 3 right, that’s a start.”

To the child responsible to empty the dishwasher, “You put away the silverware. What’s next? The plates?”

Encouragement focuses on the deed, not the doer. Encouragement is low-key. Praise is always high energy. Encouragement requires a parent to be specific and look at what the child has done. “Nice combination of colors in that painting, Mike.” Praise is general and often inflated. “I’m so proud of you! You’re going to be another Picasso!”

Make a resolution this year to practice the enjoyable art of encouragement. It’s especially useful with children who misbehave. “A misbehaving child is a discouraged child,” according to Rudolf Dreikurs, MD.

“A child needs encouragement like a plan needs water.” Alfred Adler, MD.

My third child was my most difficult child — I loved him while not liking his behavior much of the time. He was only 2 years old and could really annoy me and his older brother and sister. By learning how to encourage him and see the positive in what he did, set limits and spend a small amount of time with him daily, our relationship totally changed.

You can learn the art of encouragement in 2011 one step at a time. Start by encouraging yourself and noticing effort made. Make one encouraging statement to your difficult child each day. Make sure it’s specific, about the deed or effort and how they feel/think about it, not about how you think or feel.

I guarantee results. There’s a tip sheet here and a chapter on it in my book. Practicing is the best way to learn it.

Praise as sickly-sweet candy

September 27, 2010
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.