Friday, December 2, 2011

52 Tool Cards Double Feature: Empower your Kids and Encouragement vs. Praise

I've missed a few of my weekly 52 Tool Card posts, so today is a double feature to help catch up.  I'll share what the tools entail, and then share two examples from our life this week that I think illustrate the tool in action.

Empower Your Kids
Jane Nelsen writes:
Share control with children so they can develop skill to have power over their own lives.
1) Teach life skills
2) Focus on solutions together.
3) Have faith in your children.
4) Let go (in small steps).
5) Increase self awareness by asking, "How do you feel? What do you think? How does this affect what you want in your life?"

Empower Your Kids Example
We went to a play date on Monday.  During a short period outside, C had a broom that a little boy wanted to play with.  She was upset because he was trying to grab it away from her, and she called for help.
"The boy wants a turn with the broom," I said.  Empathy for others, sharing and taking turns are life skills I want to teach her. 

Next, I focused on solutions.  "Do you think you could play with it for a few more minutes and then let him have a turn?  Or, look, he has a hammer.  Maybe you can trade him." 

I then showed faith and let go by stepping back a little to give her space to make her choice.

C thought for a moment, then held out the broom to the boy and asked if she could trade him for the hammer.

"You chose to trade the broom and the hammer. Thank you!" I said.  Simply commenting on actions without judgment can increase self awareness.

Encouragement Vs. Praise
Jane Nelsen writes:
Teach self-reliance instead of dependence on others.  Encouragement invites self-evaluation.  Praise invites children to become "approval junkies."
The difference between praise and encouragement can best be illustrated with examples.  Praise says, "I am proud of you."  Praise calls a child a "good girl." 

By contrast, encouragement comments, "You worked hard. You must be proud of yourself."  Encouragement says, "Thank you for helping."

In Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, Becky Bailey also talks about encouragement.  Rather than labeling THE CHILD as "good," "helpful," etc., we can tell them we noticed what they did and tell them what character quality THEIR ACTION illustrated.

Encouragement Vs. Praise Example
At the same play date a short time later, it was time to go inside.  C--without any prompting--started to tidy up the outdoor toys and put them back in the play house and sandbox where they were when we started playing.  I joined her in her efforts. 

When we were done, I encouraged her by saying, "Thanks for tidying up the toys. That was very responsible and helpful of you!"  Perhaps to make it more clear I was commenting on the action, I should have said, "That was a very responsible and helpful thing to do."

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