As parents and teachers, sometimes we want to praise, at other times we need to rebuke. Either way, how do we put our point across with maximum effectiveness?
Adults entrusted with the character training of children have few weapons in their armory as powerful as praise. Just how powerful, we all know from our own experience.
If we don't use this tool as much as we should, it's probably because we haven't trained ourselves to recognize opportunities to do so. It's a skill that must be learned, like any other.
But a weapon that's not controlled is, of course, an instrument of destruction.
Praise is not something to be administered haphazardly. On the contrary, it has to be perfectly targeted. And the most effective praise is specific, appropriate and objective.It is targeted not to the personality of the recipient, but rather to his or her achievements.
Global praise such as "You're a wonderful girl," may give a child the impression that her inherent worth is dependent on her actions. Again, if she senses that she does not deserve excessive praise, she may reject it out of hand.
On the other hand, if the praise truly matches the deed, the recipient will, of his own accord, draw the appropriate inferences. (Incidentally, although we're talking about children, these principles apply with anyone.)
If your son comes home from school with an outstanding poem he has written, it won't be helpful to exclaim: "Tommy, you're the world's best poet!"
But perhaps you can tell him: "Your imagery is so vivid that it's as if I can see the scene you're describing before my eyes!" He'll then conclude: "I can write poetry well."
Now - if all this is true when we are dispensing praise, how much more does it apply when it falls to our lot to rebuke someone!
Do you play football? The object of the game, irrespective of which variety you are playing, is basically to get the ball to the far end of the field. I'm no sportsman, but I remember that when we played Rugby as schoolboys, it was legitimate to grab a player of the opposing team and cause him to fall, in order to wrest the ball from his possession.
Occasionally, an overzealous classmate would forget that this "tackling" was a means to an end, and not an end in itself! He would be duly reprimanded with the words: "Play the ball, and not the man!"
Let's end with another true-life incident cited by Ginott in one of his books.
Seven year-old Sammy is sitting at the table, playing with a plastic cup.
"Don't play with that cup! You're always dropping things," chides Mom.
Sammy promptly drops the cap. It shatters into many pieces.
"Look, I told you so! You're so clumsy. Why are you so stupid?"
"You're stupid, too! Didn't you break Daddy's razor last week?"
"You're cheeky too! How dare you call your Mother stupid!"
"You called me stupid first!"
Mom grabs hold of her little boy to give him a good whacking. Sammy resists. In the ensuing struggle, Mom cuts her hand against some glass.
The sight of blood unnerves little Sammy, and he runs away in panic. It's late in the evening by the time he's found.
That night, no one in Sammy's household sleeps well.
Too bad that Mom had not merely said:
"Sammy, you dropped the cup. We can't afford to buy new cups all the time. Here's a broom and dustpan to mop it up."
Now what about YOU?
When you praise and when you reprimand, and communicate with others in all sorts of ways - do you play the ball...or the man?
Azriel Winnett is creator of Hodu.com - Your Communication Skills Portal. This popular free website helps you improve your communication and relationship skills in your business or professional life, in the family unit and on the social scene. New articles added almost daily.
1. They can make mistakes under your guidance2. They will... Read More
There are moments in a parent's or grandparent's life, when... Read More
In seminars I am often asked about pocket-money and whether... Read More
Are you feeling overwhelmed being a parent? Do you want... Read More
1. Encourage your babysitter by keeping their favorite foods/snacks on... Read More
? Let the child choose his or her own lunch... Read More
Question 1 "How do I get more time to play?"... Read More
Spare the rod, spoil the child!This philosophy's been around a... Read More
When I was pregnant, we knew that we had some... Read More
When your child shows signs of potty training readiness, it's... Read More
An address given by Rev. David B. Smith... Read More
the woes of being a parent of an ADHD child.....Like... Read More
Researched through personal experience!Budget Your Money. Even if you are... Read More
Software for parental control is a useful tool, if applied... Read More
You no longer have to use Ritalin or other stimulants... Read More
Oh yes you have! Suddenly, "Where's Bobby?" You instantly realize... Read More
Did you know that inconsistency on matters of discipline gives... Read More
In today's mental health system there is a pattern of... Read More
Encouragement comes when you focus on your child's assets and... Read More
Everyone in a private practice setting who works with children... Read More
Ritalin is a good medication with a bad reputation. Its... Read More
Have you ever experienced one of those days when you... Read More
Child tantrums are a way for children to express their... Read More
"He is happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds... Read More
Sara loves pampering. Haircuts, facials, manicures, and makeup bring smiles,... Read More
It happens every year. Just when you are settled in... Read More
If you are a member of a stepfamily, you know... Read More
Child Safety Restraints and children in work vehiclesIf you take... Read More
A number of scientific studies have shown the way a... Read More
Annie easily slipped into becoming the sole caregiver of her... Read More
Anorexia nervosa is a serious medical disorder that is statistically... Read More
Handing Down Malignancy.Children may begin bright and eager to face... Read More
The popularity of EEG Biofeedback Training continues to grow both... Read More
I hear from many parents that their child is stressed... Read More
There are a lot of sophisticated parenting theories and techniques... Read More
The word no is probably the most overused word in... Read More
MYTH: If you have not parented as well as you... Read More
My thirteen-year-old daughter recently called me up to say she... Read More
You have two kids who are 14 months apart. How... Read More
You are in the final round of your favorite game... Read More
So you're pregnant. Congratulations! Your life is about to change... Read More
One of the most difficult parts of being a father... Read More
I had my first two children on either side of... Read More
Drivers 16 years of age have little driving experience, putting... Read More
I wanted to share with you one of the most... Read More
Is there a way to build a robot to help... Read More
Speaking as a Michael (a Hebrew name, meaning "Who is... Read More
Whenever parents discuss how to deal with bed wetting, the... Read More
My wife and I have been working on a video... Read More
Everyone needs friends, and, as parents, you and I both... Read More