“Hey Ma… watch me… watch me… watch me…. Hey Ma…Ma… Mama…Ma…. Mama… watch… watch…. watch… watch me!!!!!”
That was me, this morning, trying to get my mom to watch my handstand.
Kids are really into you watching their efforts and praising their tries. It becomes an unconscious reflex to blurt our phrases like “good job,” “wow” and “amazing” at even the most mundane activities. “Fantastic, really impressive, you stepped down!”
When The Munch was a baby I was warned that constant affirmations towards a child is problematic because if they think they can do a “good” job at something, it also means they can do a “bad” job. So they then can be come stressed about doing “good” or “bad” and subsequently BEING “good” or “bad.”
I can kind of get that. Life is more about the journey than the results and all that crap losers say.
I was also told that if you compliment your child constantly it becomes more about you and your opinion of what they did, rather then their own personal feelings of self-worth. That supposedly you are robbing them of the capacity to feel proud on their own by not giving them the chance to recognize their accomplishment.
So instead of saying “good job” etc… you should say things like “you did it,” or “nice try.” That way you are just exclaiming a fact rather then stamping the act with your judgment.
I am not sure if I totally agree with all this, but I have been giving it a whirl. I feel like a weirdo though, especially if I am in front of other people at the park and she climbs up the slide and all I say is “you did it” because yeah it is pretty fucking obvious that is just what happened. But then Munch says “I did it” and seems happy with herself so I guess my feeling like a dork isn’t as important as her damaging her for life. Other times I forget and say “good job” and worry that I have permanently marred her self-confidence… but then I think about how if I wore mascara more often I wouldn’t look so tired.
After I wrote this I went to the beach with Munch and my mom… and she was giving Munch affirmations out the ying yang… and you know what? Munch freakin’ loved it! She was eating the approval up like an organic granola bar sweetened with honey (…that is about the most exciting treat I have ever given her).
“Wow! You are right… I AM FANTASTIC!”