Two things to think about.
October 21, 2011

We’re still spending a lot of time thinking about and talking with family.  Until things settle down, I just wanted to share two videos that caught my eye recently.

A couple weeks ago, Charlotte and I were at the library when a woman completely lost her shit and started screaming at and then repeatedly spanking her son.  I will readily admit that I have no idea what exactly was going on, but it dragged out for awhile and then I heard two women near me started talking about whether or not to call 9-1-1.  So I stepped in.  I told the woman to treat her kid with some dignity, because he’s a human being and she OWES him that.  And I told her to back off and pick on someone her own size.  I didn’t get to finish because two librarians stepped in before either of us had a chance to get even more worked up.

When I told a buddy about it that evening, they told me off.  I was meddling in something that was none of my business, they said.  How dare I interfere with her disciplining her kid when I had no idea what had started the outburst in the first place.  How would I feel if some stranger did that to me?  Wouldn’t I be pissed and indignant?  How would I feel about my parental authority being undermined in front of my child?  Did it occur to me that the librarians might have had it under control?  What would I have done if the woman turned violent?  Who was watching my daughter during all of this?  And don’t even think about using those two women talking about calling 9-1-1 as a crutch, my buddy said, because I didn’t know them either so I shouldn’t be relying on their take on a situation to inform my own actions.

It’s a fair criticism and in all honesty I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong way to behave under similar circumstances.  I can’t even say that I know that what I did was right or wrong because I don’t.  If you stand up for every child you think is being mistreated or see disciplined in a way you disagree with or hear struggling against an adult, you’re going to be sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong more times than not.  But if you refuse to get involved, you run the risk of overlooking the one child who really needed your help.

What do you think?  What would you do?  Where do you draw the line?  When do you speak up and when do you leave other parents alone?  If you were at the library, would you have stepped in?  And if you were walking past that kid on the streets, would you have turned around to help?  IF YOU WERE THE PARENT and someone else stepped in to stand up for your child, what would you think?  What would you say?

Tracy’s son and my daughter were born the same week.  We have alot in common and she is one of my go-to people for parenting ideas and advice.  The day that we first met one another, I came home and told my husband that I had met a soulmate.  We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but our differences tend to be more that we see two different shades of grey than that one sees black and the other white.

This is a topic that she feels very passionately about and one that certainly gives me food for thought.  If you have fifteen minutes free this weekend, I would love to hear what you think about this video.  Please remember that you do not need to agree with Tracy, but your comments do need to be respectful.  If they aren’t, I will delete them.  Because I am delirious with comment-deleting power, amen.


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  1. By Sarah on October 21, 2011

    wow that’s a pickle. But in light of all the children that get killed by an abusive parent, I think you did right. If you saw her give a swat or a smack on the hand, then that is one thing. But repeatedly spanking and yelling is another. Of course, I always try to take a more non confrontational approach. Like I would have touched her arm and asked her if she wanted me to watch him while she checked out, given her a sympathetic smile and let her know we all lose it sometimes. Because we do. Maybe not to that degree, but still. The only reason I suggest this approach is because that child has to go home with her, and you never know how she will treat him in light of her embarrassment. Maybe she is chagrined and will never do it again. Or maybe she beats the hell out of him for making her look bad. you just never know. I am glad you stepped in tho, because I think too many people just watch and post about horrible parenting on FB later. You DID something. ANd Charlotte will never forget that you stood up for the little guy!

  2. By Sarah S on October 21, 2011

    THat is a pickle. I never know how to handle those sorts of situaitons, I mean you can’t tell others how to parent but at the same time, your heart just breaks for the kids living under that type of parenting.

    As for the praise video - which I loved! - I have realized as the kids get older that too much praise really is a bad thing. For several reasons. 1) It implies I am watching and judging everything they do. I either deem it good (praise) or bad (usually saying nothing) and 2) too much praise discourages trying. (in my opinion). If the child can put virtually no effort into something, and get praise for it, why would they try?

    I do praise when they have been struggling with something (say bedtime…) and then it goes well. Or if they really work hard on a picture (long and important work we call it) then I will tell them that their picture looks lovely and that I like how hard they worked on it. But for everyday things, I really try to limit it. Instead of praise, I tell them that I love them A LOT. And I tell them that I like them and that I enjoy spending time with them. That seems to convey what I’m feeling without the judgement that can come from a lot of praise.

  3. By Bee on October 21, 2011

    I agree with Sarah’s comment.  I’m not sure what I would have done unless I was actually in the situation, but I’m glad you did something.

    I really appreciate the videos you posted.  The ‘what would you do’ video makes me sick.  I do not understand how people can walk by and do NOTHING.  Nothing.  Even if it meant putting myself in harms way, I would do SOMETHING.  Even if it was calling 911 and following the guy from a distance.  I cried watching the guys at the end who acted to save the girl.  I realize this was a set up scenario with actors, but the public didn’t know that.  Those guys where ready to do what it took to keep that little girl safe. Imagine what was going through their minds during that scene.

    When I was in high school, a girl my age was abducted in a busy parking lot outside of a Target store I frequented.  In broad daylight, with lots of people around.  No one did anything.  No one even called 911.  He killed her and only after her body was found and the police were investigating did people come forward with eye witness testimony of the abduction at the Target store.  This makes me physically ill.  I posted the stranger danger video on FB in hopes of spreading the info and encouraging people to ACT when something is not right, especially when children are involved.

    I enjoyed the video with Tracy.  I think what she talked about is very important.  As a child, I did a lot of things out of fear of disappointing my parents.  Not to seek their praise, but out of the fear of disappointment.  I don’t want my future children to go through the same constant feelings of anxiety.  I’ll be checking out the websites mentioned at the end of the video.

    My thoughts are with you and your family in whatever is going on.  I wish you all the best and may what is wrong be right again.

  4. By Bee on October 21, 2011

    Sarah S-  I love what you’re doing with your children!  My husband & I tell each other all the time that we love each other, we like each other, we enjoy spending time with each other.  I longed to hear that someone enjoyed spending time with me when I was a kid.  We don’t have children yet (waiting to try), but we are learning all we can in preparation. Thanks for sharing!

  5. By on October 21, 2011

    I am in a similar situation. My brother and sister in-law went through some tough times with my nephew when he was born. My sister in-law battled with postpartum depression, and my brother struggled through a bout of depression. To a point that both my brother and sister were vocalizing that it would be easier if the baby were not here, if he would just die. My husband and I decided to step in at that point. We talked to my mom and her mom, and saw to it that they got the help they needed. Even if it was just a little break from the baby. Now they are still struggling, but they choose to ignore it. So my husband and I watch and hope that we can step in when the time is right. My nephew is 1 year and 8 months and his behavior around his parents is attention seeking behavior. They always say how good our son is, and my nephew would never just sit there like that and eat his dinner. Or he never listens when I say no. I try to explain what worked for us but I also tell them to find their own parenting style, find out what works for their family. Recently my brother was over at our house and my nephew kept hitting him. My brother ignored it until it started to hurt. Then he yelled “CUT IT OUT” and hit my nephew on the head 4 times, hard. My husband (i was putting our son to sleep) told him to stop and told him that the reason he hits is because of what your doing to him. He doesn’t know any better. This is a tough situation for us because if that happened at our house, what happens at their home? How do you tell someone that they need to learn to be a better parent? We take my nephew when we can, give them advice when they’ll listen and talk to their parents on a regular basis. Everybody feels that they can be better parents, they just need to suck it up and do it. (and now their talking about having another baby. I just about died)

  6. By on October 21, 2011

    Praise should be directed at the effort rather than the outcome.  Our ideas regarding our abilities and their origins are impacted by the type of praise we receive as children.  Those receiving praise for the product or outcome tend to adopt notions that their abilities are a fixed entity rather than a malleable entity (one that can be acquired with effort).  So we should praise the effort to persist despite failures.

  7. By Sarah Christensen on October 21, 2011

    Nicole - A very close friend of mine is going through something eerily similar with one of her siblings.  It’s heartbreaking to hear her talk about it.  I am so sorry that your family is going through this and I hope that there’s a positive resolution for the child in sight.

  8. By Sarah@Crazy Love Gamble-Style on October 21, 2011

    Thank you for both those videos.  The first one makes me think about what I need to do to train my child better, we really haven’t worked on that yet, outside of discussing it.  I am embarrassed to say that she would totally willingly go with almost any stranger, she just doesn’t get it and is so out going and friendly and trusting. 

    The second video is also so helpful.  I am really bad with this.  I constantly knowingly manipulate Ava to get her to do what I want her to do.  I praise her all the time and speak about her behavior to her constantly too, weather it be good or bad.  My girlfriend brought this theory up to me lightly in conversation recently and I have been starting to work on it.  This video is really helpful, I think I need to watch it a few more times : )

    Ok not feeling so good about this parenting gig at the moment but we are always evolving as people right????

    Thanks again.  : )

  9. By on October 21, 2011

    Very fitting that you posted these videos right after what is going on in China with that child that was run over. It’s sad that no one wants to step in and help, but in our country when you can be sued for just about anything, I think a lot of people are hesitant to assist.

    Nicole- While I agree that praising the effort is important, the world is run in a succeed/fail fashion. No one gets praised for effort when the the effort results in losing an account. Kids need to learn that there are some situations where best effort is acceptable, and some where failure isn’t an option.

  10. By on October 21, 2011

    Sorry Nicole. I was responding to Jacqueline.

  11. By Sarah on October 21, 2011

    Thanks for this post. I think it deserves to be shared - so I’m going to share it.

    http://www.parentingwithpinot.com

  12. By Beth on October 21, 2011

    i think you have a right to your opinion. if it was from your heart & you honestly felt it needed to be said i think you did the right thing. what if you had not said anything & she was a mean lady & was abusing the child & then you thought i should have said something & did not. shoulda, coulda, woulda. i’ve asked my parents when i was a kid did you discipline me in restaurants or stores in front of others? ... & the answer was no ... to discipline a child in front of others in not cool , not right & should be between you & the child only. i really don’t like moms who yell at their child right in front of everyone, sceaming is not called for. it is a true form of embarrassment or ridicule. i think you should take that child immediately out of the store to the car & speak there. seems to be a more fair way of doing it. (:

  13. By on October 21, 2011

    I think each situation is different and unique. I don’t know exactly *when* I would step in and stop an abusive situation like the one in the library, but it would be when I felt the child’s life was in danger. Anything less than that (but still considered abusive) I would suggest the library call 9-1-1 or the local police or social services. I’m not good with confrontation. And I don’t think it’s my place to tell the mother to stop. She’s disrupting the library, so the librarians should handle it.

    Similarly, had I seen the altercation in the street on the video and heard the girl say “You’re not my father”, I would have called 9-1-1. I’m short and weak. There’s no way I’d intervene physically unless I felt there was no time for the police to arrive. What happened in China was inhumane. Most people treat animals better than that.

    As for Tracy’s video, I hesitantly disagree with some of what she says (in the context of a 2 year old). I see where she’s coming from, but it sounds like a very deep theory with a lot of assumptions as to how small children feel about praise. It’s hard to know exactly how they feel, and even harder to determine the effects on their behaviour and motives. When James finishes stacking his cups and I say “good job”, he smiles, says “Ready Mommy?“ and then knocks them down to the ground. And then he moves on the the next thing he feels like doing. He eventually goes back to his cups and stacks them just as well as the previous time. Same goes for most tasks, whether or not I praise him.

    I also don’t consider myself manipulative because I give praise for behaviours I want to see repeated. I want my son to eat without throwing his food on the ground, to pee in a potty, to be gentle, to be polite, etc. These are all what I consider basic acceptable behaviour. I don’t think it makes me manipulative.

    All that said, “You did it” is a fine substitute for “Good job”; in fact, a better alternative. I will try to remember to use it more often.

  14. By on October 21, 2011

    Hi Sarah,

    Thankyou for posting the praise viDeo in particular. Fascinating and perspective changing.

    I hope your family worries can be resolved
    Megan

  15. By on October 21, 2011

    1. The first video is scary… If I were a part of that situation, I’m not surehow I’d respond. It’s easy to say I’d step in, but really, the dialog was confusing - the man saying ‘there you are’ (or something… Like he found a missing child) and her saying ‘help, you’re not my dad’. Is she a disrespectful child (which we see all the time in society) or is he abducting her (common, but how many times have you seen it in person?). For someone afraid to confront others, it’s ‘easy’ to assume the later… And just walk away. I think my response would be to kind of watch the situation unfold.

    A couple weeks ago we went to a local orchard and it was super busy because they were holding a festival. I guess two kids wandered off… And their parents couldn’t find them. When they resurfaced, (about the time I became aware of the situation), the mother and grandmother literally began beating them for disappearing, creating a huge scene with both parents and both kids crying and screaming while they’re being beaten… It was horrible. It lasted all of 45 seconds, but me and the person I was with just sat and stared in awe. I think people don’t respond because initially you’re not sure what’s happening… Then you try to process and it’s like ‘is this really happening?‘ (do people really act this way?) and before you can formulate a response, the situation is over. Then what? It’s so hard.

    I remember your story about the woman Who told you get control of your child at the playground (totally different than beating a kid), and how angry you were with her telling you how to parent your kid… To this woman, hitting her kid
    Could just seem ‘normal’... Not that it’s right, but
    Coming in on the attack could catch her the same way the other woman caught you. It’s tough to decide where to draw that line between when it’s ur business and when it’s not.

    2. The praise video was interesting. I appreciate what she had to say without agreeing 100%. I know a Ron of women who use ‘reward charts’, and they all talk about how effective they’ve been - having no experience with them myself, I’m not sure of my stance.

    I don’t think there seems to be much difference between ‘you did it’ and ‘good job’ ( if your child peed on the floor while potty training and you’re unhappy, you’re not going to say ‘you did it!‘, so they’re still getting a ‘positive’ response for desired behavior, so it’s just word choice in my mind.

    I did however agree/find interesting her points about the child wanting your attention and how they just want you on their level talking through things they’re doing. I notice with Jude all the time that his behavior is much more desirable if I’m working side by side with him.

    I think her interview focused a lot on what parents ‘shouldn’t’ do. I’m interested to hear more on what types of responses she thinks are beneficial to get a better idea of what she means. After watching the interview, I did notice I paid more attention to my responses to things Jude was doing and realized just Joe little I praised him… And how much I said things like ‘did you get in the seat all by yourself?!?‘ and how he smiled seemed proud without me needing to tell him he needed to be proud… So I think there’s something to her opinion for sure.

    (these two videos are way too much to discuss in one post - LOL).

  16. By Alicia S. on October 22, 2011

    1st video: Last night, before even going on to read the post under the video, my husband and I immediately sat down and discussed Stranger Danger with our son. He knows a few basics we taught him when he was 2, but now that he’s able to understand more, we’ve been meaning to revisit it. We even roll-played different scenarios and watched some of the Safe-Side videos together afterward. So THANK YOU.

  17. By Alicia S. on October 22, 2011

    2nd video: I just want to say that I respect Tracy’s opinion on this much more after having seen this video. I remember this theory being brought up before, and being very put off by it. But, I have to say, I agree with much of what she has to say. Being only 25 and the fully-custodial parent of an eleven year old girl, plus my two biological children—I have seen how praise effects in the long term, and how the behaviors especially in my step-daughter that have stuck have pretty much all been the ones not that she was praised for, but that she got the most positive attention out of. Which is not always desirable.

    For instance, without going into too much detail, my step-daughter had a borderline abusive relationship with her biological mother, who eventually walked out of her life entirely. She is addicted to positive attention now… which she has learned comes from feigning distress or unfair treatment. We’ve had a lot of issues with her pitting family against family until finally, we all realized what was happening, and we’ve worked together over the years to help her through it. She was never actually praised for confiding in people about being treated unfairly by someone else, but she certainly got their undivided attention when she did it.

    Likewise, I struggle with this with my son, because of the fact that he’s very advanced for his age in a lot of areas. At three and a half our pediatrician has already suggested to us that we look into having him skip kindergarten. I’ve been drowning myself in research about his learning differences lately, and there seem to be so many emotional detriments to giving a child like him too much praise… Apparently, when children like him hit a certain grade, their abilities don’t stand out in the day to day anymore, and therefore they receive much less shock and awe over their differences… which has lead to sever depression in many, many cases.

    So we’ve had to work very diligently to retrain ourselves to say things like, ‘Wow, how does it make you feel that you were able to work through that problem today?’ I can remember when he was two and a half, watching him learn how to write his letters was torture. One day it took him three hours of writing the letter A over and over and over again for him to finally get it to his own standard of perfection. He’d get so transfixed on figuring it out for himself that even when he was SO FRUSTRATED he could burst, I couldn’t pull him away for anything; not a snack break, a walk to the park…. Nothing.

    Before he ever figured it out, it took EVERYTHING IN ME not to look him in the eye and tell him, ‘I know SIX year olds who couldn’t make an A as beautifully as you just did. DON’T YOU KNOW HOW AWESOME YOU ARE?!?’ You can only imagine how difficult it was to keep my head about him actually getting through it. It kind of goes against our grain, but learning to teach my son that my approval of him does not lie in his abilities or accomplishments has effected the way I look at praise with my other two children as well.

    Very cool videos. Thanks Sarah and Tracy!

  18. By Tracy Roberts on October 22, 2011

    Hi all!
    Unfortunately the questions and disagreements being brought up are discussed more thoroughly in the 45 minute version of my interview which will only be available through DVD later.  It is hard to disuss this entire topic in 10-15 minutes.
    There is a significant difference between I statements and You statements and praising the effort does not change the fact that you are changing the child’s purpose for doing that effort in the first place.
    I will stop there for now and say that I hope you all would give it the time and explanation it deserves by reading Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn.  Because that is what we all want right?  For our children to know they are UNCONDITIONALLY loved?

    I agree that these were two different topics that could have been divided into 2 posts, it is A LOT.
    But thank you for bringing such important topics to light all the time, we all think you rock!

  19. By Tracy Roberts on October 22, 2011

    ANd of course you should step in! Always!  The other is to assume that children are parents property to do with what they will, not so!

  20. By on October 22, 2011

    Tracy - I think I understand your theory much more clearly from your first comment than I do from the video - “I vs. You”. That actually clears it up a TON (maybe you mentioned it in the video, but I didn’t pull that out of it)!

    So, it’s almost like both are positively acknowledging the behavior, but one is claiming the behavior is good because it makes the parent happy, while the other is claiming the behavior is good because it makes the child happy. So, you’re acknowledging how great it is because it makes him/her feel good about themselves (wow! You pooped on the potty!) - instead of it being good because it makes the parent happy (I think you did such a good job!).

    If I understand it correctly, then it appears it’s not SO much about reward as it is about instilling a sense of personal achievement instead of making actions happen for the sole purpose of satisfying someone else?

    I’m going to look into the book, I’m curious to hear more about it. I really think there’s something to what you’re saying, even if I’m not sure I totally agree.

  21. By on October 23, 2011

    It’s of course difficult to decide whether or not a person should take action in a situation like that. However, by your description, it sounds like the disciplining was bad enough to justify your stepping in the way you did. Even if you didn’t know what caused the woman to react that way, it doesn’t give warrant to you standing by and hoping someone else has the situation under control. (In my opinion, it doesn’t seem like it was under control if it went on for that long.) What if the situation had escalated and the child ended up being severely hurt? I’m aware and understand that the woman has the right to discipline her child as she sees fit, but she took that right to the extreme. She should’ve taken a moment to compose herself before disciplining her child in a calm manner. What are the benefits of screaming and spanking your child repeatedly?

    Also, I understand where your friends are coming from about it being none of your business. Yet, how does that make not taking action not reasonable? Are we supposed to stand by in situations like this and hope for the best simply because it’s not our business? To tie it into the video, I bet some of those people who walked by the child in the abduction scenario thought it was none of their business either. In that thinking, it could’ve cost that child a chance to be saved.

    So, to wrap this up, I 100% agree with you choosing to step in.


    My prayers are with you and your family. I wish all of you the best.

  22. By Ellery on October 23, 2011

    I would never beat my child, but I will (and have) spank my child in public.  I know there are people who do not believe in spanking a child.  However, if I were disciplining my child, I would be very offended if someone stepped in to “protect” my child.

    The first video is a completely different issue than a child being beaten.  Being abducted by a stranger is different than a parent beating their child. If you see a child being “abducted”, it may be the parent, but the child is acting out.  However, if that’s really the parent can be sorted out later, calling 9-1-1 is a must. Seeing a child being disciplined rougher than you think a child should be is an individual decision whether or not to call 9-1-1. JMO

  23. By on October 24, 2011

    generally i can tell the difference between a parent disciplining and just being a power hungry beater.  you see, there have been two times when i scared the bejeezus out of my son and spanked him repeatedly in public because he ran in to the middle of the road.  i wanted him to be very scared so he never did that again.  had someone seen that few seconds i was yelling and spanking they may have thought i was evil.  who are they to judge my situation?

  24. By on October 25, 2011

    Katie, some people would ask who are you to raise a hand against a child?  And who are you to judge them for thinking that or for interceding when they sincerely think it’s the right thing to do?

    Good for you, Sarah.  It’s always better to err on the side of a child.  You won’t always be right, but you will always be able to live with yourself afterwards.

  25. By on October 25, 2011

    maria, i take a very biblical approach to raising my children and i do believe spanking is appropriate at times.  the point is, i do not judge people for their choices in disciplining their children.  and yes, i would have no qualms about interceding when appropriate but if someone who chooses not to spank were to criticize my use of that then yes, i would have a problem. 

    i read “sheparding a child’s heart” and found it to be very useful.

  26. By Sarah Christensen on October 25, 2011

    Maria C - I think it is important to keep in mind that Katie, like all of us, does the best she can.  While I appreciate the support, it is important to me that comments on my website are respectful of people with differing opinions.

    All of us make decisions about parenting - and about how we view other parents, whether or not we intercede with other parents exercising their right to discipline using corporal punishment, etc. - that are largely informed by our cultural worldview, our life experiences, and how we perceive a situation at a given moment in time.  Katie does have a point: who are any of us to judge other parents for having different opinions?

    Katie and Ellery - As it happens, I come from a family that did not engage in corporal punishment.  Some of my family and friends live in countries where all forms of corporal discipline are outlawed.  I live in a state that does not allow corporal punishment in schools and I live in a county that asked me to sign a paper swearing to never engage in physical discipline in order to become a potential adoptive parent.  It naturally follows that corporal punishment makes me very uncomfortable.  That doesn’t mean I think parents who spank are horrible people or are somehow wronging their children, because that simply isn’t the case.  It just means that you and I view discipline differently and that we draw the line between ‘okay’ and ‘wildly inappropriate’ in different places.  I guess when it comes to intervention with another parent, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and I hope that if I speak too early and am completely off-my-ass wrong they try to give me the benefit of the doubt too.

  27. By tracey on October 26, 2011

    Hmmmm. The first video is, as always, shocking. I DO step in. I have no qualms about standing a safe distance away and asking those involved if they need any help. Just a “Everything ok?“ question can help you evaluate what is going on.

    The library situation… Well. I think that if those were the exact words you used, then you may have stepped over the line. Physical violence is a serious issue, but verbally accusing another mother isn’t going to endear her to your views on what she is doing. You get more flies with honey and all that…

    Tracy’s opinions on praise… I agree that over-praising is potentially damaging, but I feel that this topic has been WAY over-analyzed. Some children thrive on praise and some children thrive on independence. Some parents NEED to praise in order to express themselves. Most families are separated by long school and work hours, and only get a few moments together each night. Their children may have been waiting all day for reassurances from their parents that the choices they’ve made throughout the day are good ones. A parent can definitely make the conversation an open one and ask “How do YOU feel about such-and-such?“ but most children crave their parents’ approval. I don’t consider this type of praise “manipulative” in a bad way. I consider it Parenting. We have a brief period in our children’s lives where they are actually impressionable by US. If we don’t utilize it, who WILL they be impressioned by?

  28. By on October 26, 2011

    Having been physically abused as a child and watching my mother physically abused I would say step in. There were times as a child when I didn’t feel safe to speak for myself. There were moments went someone did step in and I felt releif.  The abuser usually was dignified but would always stop the abuse momentarily. While reading this I felt deep sadness but still felt like I didn’t have a voice. I hope I have the strength to step in as you did. When strangers would step in it renewed my faith in humanity, that my abuser and being hit to the extent I was, was not normal an I deserved better.

  29. By on October 26, 2011

    uh, helllo.. ever heard of Kitty Genovese? Someone SHOULD have called 911. Stepping in on someone who is harming their child (whether physically or verbally, even if it’s “punishment”) is the RIGHT thing to do! What if the mom turns around and beats the kid? Don’t just assume someone will take care of it, or something will change. ALWAYS take action in a situation like that. You did well!! Go Sarah!

  30. By on October 26, 2011

    Tracey - I agree with your position on the praise issue. I watched the video and felt like she made some really great points - and as I mentioned above, I have been thinking about my response to my son lately and which responses he seems to favor and really, he responds really well to me just talking through what he’s doing. At two and a half he’s not a very vocal child, so, it seems to be helpful and beneficial to talk through EVERY thing he does. I found how little I actually do push the praise thing anyway.

    But there are times, with out a doubt that just telling him “You did____” is not enough. He’s not a praise junkie, but letting him know I’m proud of the things he does really seems to make him beam from time to time. Especially as a kid who doesn’t say much, when he throws out 3 or 4 new vocab words in one day, telling him I’m so proud of him just doesn’t seem like enough!

    I’m a pretty firm believer in a life of balance, though. I think banning sweets can be just as bad as feeding your child McDonald’s everyday - in the sense that you’re creating this inaccessible thing - so how will they handle it when they DO get it? Will they know how to control themselves? I see the same thing with the praise issue. If parents don’t praise their kids occasionally, how will they respond in the real world, where sooner or later they will be praised/rewarded by others? Like you said, wouldn’t it be better for them to have your reassurances early on, rather than those of the outsiders?

    It reminds me of my husband. He and his father have a good relationship, but in the 10 years i’ve been dating my husband, my FIL has maybe said on 2 occasions that he’s actually proud of my husband for something. Sometimes I see that him not telling him he’s done a good job has the reverse effect. Instead of my husband growing up to feeling like he needs to do something simply to gratify himself, he works extra hard at things in an effort to win his father’s approval (we’re remodeling our second home - and he helps us with projects a lot… those are the types of things I’m referring to). I can see the disappointment oozing from my husband after toiling with some project or another for hours only to have his father to walk in, look at it say ‘oh, you did ____ without me?“ and move on… Just a simple “oh, that looks good!“ would have made his day…

    If you’re throwing out praise like the example of the woman she mentioned in the video who said it’s starting to feel like a numb response, then yes, you need to reevaluate your communication with your child, but if you do it when you really truly are impressed by your child - and want them to know just how great you think they are, then by all means - do it!


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