We shall avoid judgment and empty praise in order to promote self-confidence, independence, and intrinsic motivation in our children.
Trust me, I was guilty as charged, as a new parent, telling my first child “great job!” a thousand times! However, in a Montessori environment, we try to avoid personal inspection and empty praise such as “Good job” or “You are the best!” because it casts judgment! Children are not doing anything in their daily routine in search of adult’s praise! They just ARE: being, experiencing, absorbing! Children fold towels or clean vegetables or water plants because it is of interest to THEM! They want to DO IT! They need to experience through ‘work’ in order to grow and become!
So when we assign labels such as good or bad upon something a child is performing to satisfy their OWN developmental needs (remember they’re not trying to impress you!), we take ownership AWAY from them! What they do – all of a sudden- becomes about us and what we think!
Avoid Judgment and Empty Praise
Praise, help, or even a look, maybe enough to interrupt [a child] or destroy the activity. It seems a strange thing to say, but this can happen even if the child merely becomes aware of being watched. After all, we too sometimes feel unable to go on working if someone comes to see what we are doing. The great principle which brings success to the teacher is this: as soon as concentration has begun, act as if the child does not exist. Naturally, one can see what he is doing with a quick glance, but without his being aware of it.Maria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind.
Is Overpraising Debilitating
Studies show that overusing phrases like ‘good job’ or ‘I am so proud of you!’ can actually hurt children’s self-esteem! Indeed, it takes time for your children to start to become conscious of how their actions affect others. Your child is at the beginning of a journey of self-realization that will last them a lifetime. So, when parents keep using an approach that helps children become aware of their behaviors rather than overpraising, judging, or criticizing, they gradually become aware of the reality and start to take control for themselves!
Excerpts from my eBook
Offer ENCOURAGEMENT, NOT an empty praise
You are the best!
|You can jump so high!|
You did ____ yourself!
|Focus on ACTION, Not the person||You are such a good helper!||Thank you for putting the toys away|
|Allow room for SELF-evaluation||I am so proud of you!||You must be very proud of yourself|
So, in order to respond to a child’s work in a way that acknowledges them without impeding on their ownership, instead of “Good job,” say “You did it.” Thus by focusing on the process and not the person or your judgment, we allow a child to reflect upon his/her own accomplishments: “Yes! I did do it, didn’t I!”
And that sense of accomplishment and pride allows the child to move on to bigger things with self-confidence that no “good job” could ever bestow. Thus, be mindful, sincere, and descriptive, and instead of overpraising, judging, or criticizing, bring a child’s awareness to the reality of OWN behavior in order to promote self-control, confidence, and independence.
What are your alternatives to the commonly overused phrases?
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eBOOK | THE BASICS Bringing Montessori Home
“Our work is not to teach, but to HELP the absorbent mind in its work of development. How marvelous it would be if by our help, if by an intelligent treatment of the child, if by understanding the needs of his physical life and by feeding his intellect, we could prolong the period of functioning of the absorbent mind!”
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