Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Can affirmation help you pass a test?

There are to very different philosophies in raising children when it comes to affirmation. One says to affirm the intrinsic value of a child's worth. The other says to affirm the effort a child puts into things and affirming the outcome.

So if you're in the first camp you say things like, "Johnny, you're so smart." The second camp would say, "Johnny, you're such a hard worker at school."

A recent study showed that a generation of parents in the first camp raised insecure kids who feared to attempt great things as adults because society did not look on them with the same fondness their parents did, nor lavish them with praise.

The same study indicated that parents in the second camp raised kids who were more secure, attempted more things and did better because of their belief that effort was a factor for success over being just plain special.

I'm indifferent and admit to practicing both methods of affirmation often. But when Ellie, my middle daughter, demonstrated early on in the school year that math didn't come easy for her (like dance, music, and social skills did for her), I decided to experiment.

Any time she complained, struggled, cried, or worked on math homework, I affirmed her effort and work and marveled at her tenacity and sticking with it.

This week, after a long year of struggling with it, Ellie aced her times table and did it with seconds to spare. We celebrated with a Hot Lava cake and ice cream. I know it has her name at the top, but secretly, I think I can just make out my name slightly there too.

Grab a spoon, let's celebrate!