I heard a story yesterday about a study about praise and children. They gave two sets of kids a problem to solve and when both groups got the correct answers they told one group that they were so smart and the other group was acknowledged for doing it but asked if they could try another problem. The one that what praised didn't try as hard second time around. Being told they were so smart made them feel they didn't have to work so hard. The group given the basic acknowledgment went on to try harder.
This got me thinking about all the different ways we can praise our kids. I often think about blending what I got from my folks and what my husband's parents got from his. My parents had the best of intentions and I think the encouragement I got from them was meant to be practical, but practical can often feel negative. I come from a family of worriers so "go for it", or "try it and see what happens" wasn't likely to be the response when I came home wanting to try something new. It was more a concerned "is that a good idea?" which as a result often made me question my choices. It didn't always provide me with the strongest self esteem but it does give me great tools for overthinking things out.
My husband was raised with so much praise and support that he really does believe he could try anything. His parents told them that they were amazing and could accomplish whatever they put their mind too. I get the sense that if he or his sisters felt the were wronged by another child that their mom would quickly come to their side as opposed to questioning if maybe they misread the other child intentions. I think this kind of support is wonderful but it does at times come with a price. The ego is a delicate thing and if one's ego is slightly inflated then criticism is often disregarded as opposed to taken constructlivley. I'm not saying this was the case with my husband but I see this reflected in the entitled generation that now is in their twenties.
Like everything else I think a balance is needed for encouragement. There are so many new schools out there today. Private, charters, magnet, specialty and regular public schools. You can find a school where your kid can go to a cool off corner with no shame, as opposed to being sent to the principals office. I wanted to send Twig to a Warldof public school where she learned at her own pace in a non traditional way. It didn't work out for us geographically and in the end she is in the perfect place for her. When I say perfect I need to stress that no place is perfect, but a traditional academic school challenges her and she likes that challenge. She also thrives on the structure and the need to assimilate to what her peers group is doing. That doesn't mean she is a robot and can't express her creativity because she can, but it means that she has to figure out how to navigate safely and comfortable within the setup of the system. So many people are looking for that outside the box establishment but at some point it is helpful to learn how to succeed within the box too.
I will definitely high five my kid when they do something well, but I will also say how can we do this differently next time if there is room for improvement. A child doesn't need to be the best but they do need to be their personal best. It's so individual, and thats why I think a balance is so crucial.