Archives for October 2013

Praise Or Discouragement

It might sound like I’m splitting hairs here… but the way we encourage our kids MATTERS.

My daughter stood on the podium marked 3, smiled and waved at end of her first ever gymnastics meet. Was I happy for her? Sure. Did I praise her as being an amazing gymnast? No.

Attachment-1

What did I tell her when she walked up to her dad and I after the meet, four shiny metals around her neck, trophy in hand, beaming ear to ear? I hugged her and said with an equally large smile, “I LOVED watching you out there. You had this big smile the entire time. It looked like you were having a blast. Honey, we’re so proud of how committed you are to your team. You are learning so much…”

Why didn’t I gush over her getting to stand on the podium? Why not go on and on about the shiny new metals that hung around her neck? It’s because when we praise the child (or the outcome like the “win”) verse praising the child’s effort, their brain holds onto our  praise as conditional and in the end, our praise becomes discouragement.

I think of it this way: praise the child/win/outcome and the brain thinks: I AM GOOD WHEN I DO GOOD. So what happens when our kids face something new and hard? Something they are “bad” at? Their brain is left to conclude: I AM GOOD WHEN I DO GOOD AND  I AM BAD AT THIS… I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS HARD THING. I AM NOT “GOOD” AT IT.

But praise the effort and waaaa-laaaa, you have a child whose brain is being incentivised to face challenges.

The real win, I want my ten year old to know deep in her heart, is the person she is. The love and respect she shows her coaches. The encouragement she gives her teammates and the girls on other teams, clapping for and watching them attentively. The commitment and focus she exercises, day in and day out, in getting her mom and her twin three year old brother and sister motivated to GET IN THE CAR NOW that she might get to practice on time (where early is on time and on time is late!). The patience and care she shows her body when she decides to sit a practice out because she is hurting even though it kills her to sit on the sidelines and watch.

Understanding the full impact our words as parents have on our kids takes time —but given the research, it’s time worth spending. There is power in the way we praise.

  • Praising the child: “Man you are smart.” Praising the effort: “That was a long assignment, but you stuck to it and got it done. That’s great!
  • Praising the child: “You are an amazing artist.” Praising the effort, “Wow. Look at all the different colors/techniques/materials/etc you used to make that picture.” or “What was your favorite part of making that?” or “Can I hang this in the kitchen?”
  • Praising the child: “You are such a great soccer player” Praising the effort, “You worked really hard today at soccer practice.” or “I love to watch you play.”

None of this sort of praising comes easy or naturally to me. After thirteen years of thinking about process over outcome, of working to praise the effort not the child, is it still hard for me?

YES. I do it “wrong” all the time. But that’s okay. I love a challenge.

Food for thought:

  • Are the things we’re saying to our kids inspiring them or discouraging them?
  • Are we helping them take on a growth mindset or a fixed mindset?
  • Are we preparing them for the challenges life will surely hold or are we not?
  • And finally, how do we, their parents, respond to challenges? Both ours and theirs.

Praise the effort, not the child. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

xo

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:

A Curvy Road
Connection and Baby/Kids

Helpful Resources:

Effective Praise

Effort, Praise and Achievement

Children and Praise: Why Certain Types of Praise May Backfire

 

One Voice For Many

Not many films have so palpably touched me the way Generation Rx did.

As a mother, I’ve always questioned.

“You will not be able to deliver twins outside the operating room. It’s just procedure.” But I did, In a peaceful labor and delivery room just down the hall.

“It’s time for your baby to receive sugar water. She’s going to end up with brain damage.” But she did not, latching on to me instead as I cradled her in my arms, wrapped within a special light blanket, her red blood cell levels returning to normal as he body was give the time it needed to eliminate the excess blood cells. (Drinking. Peeing. Drinking. Peeing.)

Despite much fear and many attempts to scare me into parenting decisions, I prefer to question the things I am told, even when they are told to me by, yes, a doctor. Sometimes I go with the advice I am given. And sometimes I do not.

  • Allowing a Hepatitis immunization shot for my hours old baby? No.
  • Scheduling an MRI to rule out other (unnamed but scary) causes for my teens regular headaches? Yes
  • Scheduling annual flu shots for my entire family, introducing a virus in order to prevent it? No.
  • Taking my daily prenatal vitamin? Yes.

And so it was, as a mother who is used to questioning what she is told in favor of doing my own research to add to the recommendations my doctors give me, that I watched the documentary by international award-winning writer/director Kevin P. Miller unfold. Watching. Feeling at once validated and alarmed.

Through master storytelling and critical interview after interview, Miller’s film explores the narrow, largely pharm based treatment options millions with mental health conditions are afforded (our children included.) I watched as story after story told of a generation numbed (at best… at worst, driven further into the darkness of depression and violence.)

Following the film’s release, I was not surprised to learn that Miller received thousands of letters from real people: mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers — people who’s lived had been forever scarred by the negative influences of psychiatric drugs. It is from this outpouring the concept for his next film, Letters From Generation Rx was born, a film designed to spur an international conversation about mental illness.

I take heart that in Miller’s own words, his ultimate conclusion after receiving letter after letter, is a hopeful one. And it is this perspective he plans to drive home in Letters From Generation Rx: “There is hope for those suffering, and it may not lie in the toxic elixirs we have come to know by name… There are remedies and therapies being overlooked…”

I share this worthy campaign with you, hoping it starts a conversation in your home. Hoping you too are as inspired by this filmmaker as I have been.

Letters From Generation Rx has 14 days and counting left for it’s indiegogo campaign to raise the funds and go into full production. Join me in adding your voice to the many voices represented in Miller’s films. One voice questioning the system. One voice calling for a more human, holistic approach to mental health. One voice lifting truth and our freedom to question what is best for ourselves and our families on high.

Generation Rx and Letters From Generation Rx. One voice for many.

Voices that might otherwise go unheard.

xo

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:
Connection and Baby/Kids

You Are Braver Than You Believe

“Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

When we are hurting, these words from Christopher Robin to Winnie the Pooh are easy to forget. At some point in our lives, we each need reminding. It is in those moments we find ourselves leaning into another person (a friend or sometimes a complete stranger) who in their compassion and love reminds us.

We ARE brave. We ARE strong. We ARE smart. No matter how fearful, weak or broken we may feel in that moment.

Sunshine After The Storm

Sunshine after the Storm: A Survival Guide For The Grieving Mother strives to do just this, sharing honestly and with compassion the journey of a mother’s heart after the loss of a child , be it to miscarriage, stillbirth or early infant loss.

The book is free on Kindle until October 17th, 2013 and it’s authors would love to see it in the hands of as many people as possible. Mothers. Fathers. Spiritual leaders. Medical professionals. This heartfelt and inspiring collection is for anyone who finds themselves in the midst of loss.

My essay in Chapter Three, “The Things People Say”, is born of my personal experiences with repeat miscarriages, my struggle to ask for the things I needed, to forgive and to receive. In all, the book offers more than twenty “survival tips” and thirty unique perspectives from moms with both shared and varied experiences of infant loss and healing.

You may never know which of your friends this book is meant for, as in loss, most tend to hold their hurt close to the chest, which is why I am asking you to help us help others feel less alone in loss by sharing this link far and wide.

Thank you from the backside of my healing heart for passing this along, that another mother (or yes, another father) in their loss might feel less alone.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

xo

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When we follow our bliss, anything is possible. I hope you walk with me and other moms here because motherhood (and life) is better when we’re holding hands.

Related Posts:

Miscarriage and Loss