The argument is that by focusing on the child and offering positive praise instead of focusing on the effort put in, we "teach children to stop trusting their internal guidance system, to become deceptive, to do as little as possible, and to give up when things get hard."
Did you get that?
By telling our kids they are 'good or smart', we are teaching them to become 'deceptive'. I had to read it twice before the reality of what the author was saying became clear.
I like the idea of focusing praise on effort. But at the same time, this is a bit much. To follow the argument to its logical conclusion, what its really saying is that if we don't follow this advice, our children could - and probably will - turn out to be liars, slackers or ultimately, failures in life. And it will be all OUR fault!
I keep a list of things I plan to teach my children that I think will serve them well in life. Its full of skills and values and ideas that I think are important. But its only a general guide - not a to-do list for every single day. I also believe that we can evolve and that knowledge and research has given us many tools to improve upon our parents' parenting philosophies and styles.
That said, I think maybe we spend too much time nowadays worried about how every single thing we do and say affects our children. My parents fought in front of us, never used positive praise and would spank us when we misbehaved. None of that resulted in us kids turning out to be slackers or thieves or liars.
The hidden message beneath all these psychological tips on how to raise your kids is that everything you do can have a negative impact on your child's future success - and if they fail, it will be your fault. The hidden guilt trip is pervasive in much of modern day parenting advice.
All of us want the best for our kids. When we hear that telling our child he's smart rather than saying 'son, you did a great job stacking those blocks' teaches him the wrong message ( and that this can lead him to becoming a liar) suddenly you feel like a failure.
I admit, I've said 'Good job!' when my girls have done something right. I've said 'You're smart' to my two year old more than once.
The last thing I need is to feel like everything I do is wrong and that I'm failing as a mom. Worse no one wants to think they are the reason their child is a thief or liar!
I constantly worry that I am not doing the best I can for my kids. I often feel overwhelmed and like a failure. Do I really need more reasons to think I'm screwing up?
I love learning new ideas and am always open to advice on how be a better mom. But some days I just want to be. To hug my kids and yes, scream at them too and live this life we have and be grateful and not always be bombarded with tips that imply I'm failing.
Teaching our children to be self confident requires that we moms should also feel confident in our decisions and choices. Maybe those writing tips about the impact parents' words have on children should also consider the impact their words have on the moms who inevitably read them. In my opinion, they should focus on the effort we put in - and offer specific praise for it for that once in a while.