Thursday, April 09, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

Article in the paper today about the detriments of over-praising children. Apparently telling shnookums he's a genius every time he lights a fart is a key ingredient in a recipe for an adulthood spent on a therapist's couch. 

Now, this is something quite a few people have already known for quite some time; an underground contingency of parents who were, themselves, raised by folks with an iron but loving fist. I have noticed over the past few years, a movement on the playing fields to stop stuffing our roly-poly offspring with cookies every time there's a break in the (usually stupefyingly dull) game, followed by a trip to Dairy Queen "because you're all winners!" 

This is a very good thing. My own youngster asked me why I neglected to sign her up for soccer this spring, and I told her "Because you suck at it. Let's find something you're good at."

I didn't really say that. But she does suck at it, and the article cites the fact that constant praise leads to neediness and a thin skin, things that will prepare the next generation for nothing more challenging than texting each other and cyberporn. My point is, I wasn't praised to the skies just for breathing in and out, and it readied me for real life, able to take a dressing-down on occasion. 

Example: the other day, Mr. Foot felt it necessary to send me a message in the form of a flatulent, bikini-clad avatar (knowing his predilection for all things fecal, one could surmise that he was simply fantasizing about his dream-girl, but one won't) because he thought something I wrote was sub-par. (I did momentarily imagine he'd infused the post with meaning it didn't have, but that's the blogosphere for you. Things can be lost in translation very easily and one must take the lumps doled out, misread intentions or not. Maybe he just thought it was lazy. I should add however, that I do actually have that very same bikini. But I don't eat burritos ever, under any circumstance.)  The ability to receive the message, learn from it,  and move on has much to do with my upbringing.  I didn't just have parents who expected a lot from me, I had siblings who were (are) not the least bit shy of telling me I was little more than a functioning retard on a daily basis. And for that, I thank them.

The bottom line, lovelies, is that kids are pretty stupid. Left to their own devices they eat inappropriate things, plug the toilet on a daily basis and can't throw a ball worth a damn until someone teaches them to. Praise them when they get it right. Amen, brotha.


Anonymous LearnedFoot said...

This is an excellent post!

Can you wear that bikini to Keegans sometime?

9:28 AM  
Blogger wintryminx said...

A) stop it. Now you're being patronizing.

B) Done.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Sisyphus said...

I think I'm going to have to bring back the Rock Solid in the Blogosphere award just for Wintryminx.

2:43 PM  
Anonymous MFB said...

I hope you are correct in noticing a reversal in the trend towards trying to build false self-esteem in kids through undeserved praise. Unfortunately, I see far more evidence in public that the trend shows no sign of abating. Asinine things like saying "good job Timmy" after your four-year-old goes down the slide. You might as well praise gravity. It did more work than Timmy.

That and the mamby-pamby baby talk. There's no reason you can't address your child using your real voice, with real words, and complete sentences. And yes, I count "No!" "Don't!" "Put that down!" and "Stop using ____(fill in the blank) as a weapon!" as perfect examples of complete sentences.

Finally, just in case you wondering, yes, you can use the palm leafs you get at church to attack your brother.

If WinteryMinx can wear a bikini to Keegan's, than so can Sisyphus. It's only fair.

2:51 PM  
Blogger Kermit said...

Is there a limit on the number of sentences that can be used in one set of parenthesis?

6:36 PM  

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