Here is an excerpt from a thought-provoking article on Brain, Child (a blog for thinking mothers)
http://www.brainchildmag.com/2013/11/some-baby/ by Kate Cohen
That final sentence is what I notice in many praises given by adults to child.
You are such a handsome boy!
Your hair is so beautiful?
...as if physical attractiveness is the most important thing about children...
100 words and phrases to praise a child's EFFORT (not genetic inherited features)
Go beyond "Good job" and get specific...
P&C: Then how can we use praise more effectively?
Barbara Bowman: Children need to understand that praise may be given for both effort and performance. We do this by not being effusive with our praise unless one or both are present and by making clear what we are praising.
Zavitkovsky: I sometimes say that praise is fine "when praise is due." We get into the habit of praising when it isn't praise that is appropriate but encouragement. For example, we're always saying to young children: "Oh, what a beautiful picture," even when their pictures aren't necessarily beautiful. So why not really look at each picture? Maybe a child has painted a picture with many wonderful colors. Why don't we comment on that — on the reality of the picture?
P&C: So, is there a difference between praise and encouragement?
Moravcik: Yes, I think so. Encouragement is about genuinely acknowledging and appreciating what a child has done: "You did that. You climbed to the top of the climber," or "You put your jacket in your cubby." Encouragement is about the child. And praise is about what I want the child to do. Children can see through that.
Zavitkovksy: Saying "good job" or "beautiful picture" over and over sounds hollow to a child. Kids are very perceptive about who we are, what we say, and even our timing. And our praise can cause children to begin to need all the accolades they can get, and to be motivated externally, which is just what we don't want them to be.
SEE THE ARTICLE
As a teacher, I can model this behavior to parents. I hope I am clear about the focus on effort and specifics, not on physical attractiveness.
HERE ARE TIPS
1 - Focus on Improvement
2 - Emphasize the Effort
3 - Be Understated But Sincere
4 - Spotlight Specific Achievements
5 - Take Time to React
6 - Acknowledge "You"
I posted this comment on the Kate Cohen page:
This single sentence is stuck in my head:
"...as if physical attractiveness is the most important thing about children..."
How does my praise of young people support their initiative and resilience.
Do I focus on appearance or on inner qualities?
I am going to think of ways to say "I respect you because...." and "You inspire me with your tenacity."
"...as if initiative and character are the most important things about children..." A thought-provoking article.