Saturday, August 18, 2007

How much input is too much?

Some of us have been chatting about the difficulty of getting the balance right between too little input into our children's learning, and too much. Too little might convey the message we're not really interested in what they're doing and also might miss opportunities to help them develop a skill or an interest further; but too much can have the effect of putting them right off doing whatever they wanted to do.

It's something I still struggle with a lot, even after home-educating several children. Getting the balance right is very difficult. I've made some big mistakes in this respect in the past, and also the educational needs of schooled, deschooled and totally unschooled children are all very different, as are the educational needs of each individual child at each individual time, of course. So it's a matter of being flexible and responsive and trying not to get stuck in a certain rigid way of doing things.

It took me a long time, but I finally learned that the most effective method is to wait until the child shows interest in doing or learning something, then to be very careful about the amount of enthusiasm I respond with. If I get too keen on the idea, the child usually starts thinking I want to take over ownership of the process and backs off. But maybe that's just me - I can get quite passionate about things!

Sometimes it's just enough to provide the tools or information required and leave them somewhere easily accessible. I've learned not to go mad spending a huge amount of money on a certain kind of learning resource I thought might interest a certain child, because too much is too much, and it turns off their curiosity.

I think most conscientious home educators are at more risk of providing too much input rather than too little, even if they're not worried about issues like whether the child is learning 'enough', at the 'right' level. I can understand that kind of angst , but I have to say that I don't believe there's a universal 'right' age to learn anything, any more than I believe there's a universal 'right' way to learn it. Every learner is unique, and the facilitator's skill is in recognising and responding to that.

Signs I've learned to look for that a child has lost interest in something are pretty obvious ones to any parent: it's mostly in the eyes and the body language. If they're starting to look elsewhere and move like they want to be elsewhere, they probably do and the chances of them learning any more in that particular instance have passed. I try to stop providing input before that point is reached, but it's very difficult to gauge the timing. Being hyper-aware and observant helps, but we all have off-days.

I've been increasingly thinking about co-learning and 'teaching' in terms of power-struggles. Intrinsic motivation seems to depend on the child being in control and 'owning' the learning territory. Too much input is when we impinge on that territory and the child feels to lose control of the learning process.

Thanks to Lucy for inspiring this post (in *140-character* admirable chunks!)


Blogger Elaine said...

This is so true and the reason our homes are filled with boxes and books etc so children can access what they need when they are ready. It's just the struggle to store it all in an open accessible fashion

5:24 pm, August 18, 2007  
Blogger these boots said...

LOL I'm glad I inspired *something* today!

A mentioned the other week to my Mum that she wanted to learn to write. My Mum said to me that if she asked again, would it be O.K to offer to teach her? I agreed. In the meantime Mum dug out her old writing workbooks (she is a retired teacher, headteacher, in fact) and bought some 3B pencils - apparently the best tool for the job.

Last night, as we were about to go to sleep, (A's favourite time for processing thoughts and ideas, it seems) she asked me if I thought Grandma would teach her to write. I suggested we phone her this morning and ask her.

This morning A reminded me that we were due to phone Grandma. So she phoned her, and asked her, and of course Grandma was delighted, and has made an arrangement to come round on Monday.

I do worry aout this, a bit. A is a very determined youg lady, and very resistant to being shown how to do *anything*. She seems to prefer to stand back and watch, and then copy. We "taught" her capital letters by getting out the book with arrowed instructions on which way to form the letters, and then DH painting the letters, obviously following the instructions, and giving A her own paints and paper. After about the fourth letter A was following the written instructions herself and not wanting to watch daddy do it. Since then she's been writing words after asking us to spell them out. There was much angst from me about her doing capitals before lowercase but it's what seemed to flow naturally, so it's what happened.

But now she says she wants to learn to write 'properly', like I do. Big gulp. I'm wondering how she'll get on with Mum "teaching". My Mum's pretty cool though and will probably take a step back if A seems resistant. But when I do stuff with her the very act of me being even faintly '*this* is the way to do it' is enough to switch her off completely. So I'm not sure how it will work out with my Mum.

Today she kept asking even after we'd made the arrangement with my Mum, so in the end I wrote out all the lowercase letters, and then spelled out the words she wanted to know, writing them in the air when she asked me for specific letter shapes she wasn't sure of. At one point I tried to use her pencil to write the letter on the page I'd used before, but she held onto it very tight and didn't seem to want to let go. So I carried on spelling them out verbally and drawing letters she wasn't sure of in the air.

This would've been fine if I was doing something like cleaning, or Twittering (!) or whatever, but I was trying to work on budgets - not something I find easy at the best of times, even without having to stop every few moments to listen, think, and draw a letter in the air! A few moments' frustration followed, but then I realised that, of course, my work could wait and A couldn't ... so I started cleaning the kitchen instead, until she got onto doing something else. Then I did the budgets later on, while the girls were playing outside.

As Mr Incredible says: "*you* are my greatest adventure, and I almost missed it."

6:27 pm, August 18, 2007  
Blogger these boots said...

(Blimey, what a relief to be freed from the 140 characters constraint!)

6:33 pm, August 18, 2007  
Anonymous Clare said...

This is something I struggle with constantly, particularly with Flopsy, who really reacts strongly to too much enthusiasm from us. On the other hand, she's also saying "Do this with me, Mummy." or "Look at me Mummy" or "how do I do this, Mummy". I'm learning to do the bare minimum, and letting her ask for more if she needs/wants it. I also try to be honest and just say "Is that what you want to know?" or "Do you want any more help from me or should I leave you alone now?" and it seems to be working. However, I really have to stop myself being excited about things she's doing and it's so frustrating! I want to be telling her how wonderful she is, and what acheivements she's making, but if I do, she stops straight away :-( Sometimes it's ok for me to tell her how *I'm* feeling about what she's doing if I word it carefully e.g. "I'm enjoying seeing you enjoying your painting" but it's a risky thing to do so I try to keep my mouth shut if I can and then run off and ring my Mum or DH to tell them LOL!

7:12 pm, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Ruth said...

I think today showed me that when a child is ready there is no stopping them as opposed to trying to do things before they are ready. D is so switched on to reading now in a way I have never seen before. IF I had pushed it too early the whole process would have taken far longer and he would not have enjoyed it at all. I think it has been the support of like minded HE on the blog ring that helped me to stay out of the process as much as I have:)So thank you for that:)

7:18 pm, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes that's true Elaine, but the children have a way of finding what they need, don't they? Or is it that the things they need have a habit of surfacing at the right time. Seems to work like that anyway.

Lucy, you might find that A just learns happily from your mum's teaching! Or if not, that your mum is sensitive to it and reacts accordingly. Lyddie is completely different with 3rd parties on an occasional basis, from the way she normally is with me. If she reminded you to phone, she's obviously keen to try.

I LOVE that Mr Incredible quote.

Clare, your blog hates me ;-) It ate 3 comments today! And yes, that's exactly what I meant in my post! That feeling never goes away even when they're teenagers. Our Tom (18) is planning a solo trip away and I'm itching to pack his rucksack for him. Sitting on my hands every time I think about it. Let's face it, we've all got motheritis and there is no cure ;-)

Wow, Ruth - I didn't know we'd played a part in that decision. Great news about D and yes, I'm still learning and getting nice surprises too, having never had a HEing 4 year-old at home, from scratch.

8:51 pm, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

This is all very interesting and we've observed a lot of similar things. One thing that I know about our kids is that they are totally fine about being 'taught' things (not by us, usually!)if the deal is clear and upfront. What they don't like is 'sneaky teaching'!

9:29 pm, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh, there's the 3rd party thing again. Is there a blatantly obvious (except to me) reason for that, I wonder?

9:34 pm, August 18, 2007  
Blogger Annkrozeika said...

AJ is the opposite in a way - she doesn't like to be taught by other people at all (except her swimming instructor, who she's quite fond of). Being quite new to HE still, I'm finding more and more that she prefers to find things out for herself and will ask me for help if/when she needs it.

However, I can't help telling her how fantastically well she's doing things - but she does seem to need that reassurance from me, otherwise she goes into this state of 'I can't do it perfectly therefore I'll give up on it' which we have her ex-school teacher to thank for, who used to expect far, far too much from her and made her feel useless :o(
AJ is slowly but surely coming out of that mindset now though, thankfully :o)

1:53 am, August 19, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

My older three were more like that Zoe. There's definitely a big difference between home educated children who have been to school and those who haven't. The ones who have been to school need to work so much harder to be sure in their own minds of owning the territory, perhaps, having had this trampled all over at school.

As the years passed, they did want external tuition from time to time, but it had to be completely on their terms and as Allie said, very clear and upfront.

9:17 am, August 19, 2007  
Blogger 'EF' said...

re: 'sneaky teaching' thang - yeps, mine can sniff that one out a mile off. Making text book-like positive statements like out of Sesame street is also something they humor but do not buy. They like a spade to be called a spade.

However, I am a right one for making insensitive thoughtless comments..and the children and dh are regularly offended and appalled by my butting into all areas of their creative lives...I shrug, blush and apologise a lot. But I figure that it is sort of better that they can see what I am upfront than me desperately trying to cover up how I really am..which is often critical, tense and wanting to control. With any obvious input I am giving I do attempt also to explain that I am trying to influence.

But of course, they are totally unaware of all the times I can 'stand back' giving absolutely no input whatsoever and watch them just run with what they are doing. My lot are free when they are free and I do not praise them per se during these times. If I notice a particularly stunning creation (like Meadows recent poem) I might have to say, from the barrows of my honesty: "I LOVE what you wrote. It SPOKE to me." But I won't chivvy them along. Do I expect them to want my approval? It has never really influenced them approval is a bonus but not the main thing.

And then with the stuff that I am all input, the set 'work' that we call study..the applied stuff, the stuff that takes support to complete or begin..I am unashamed about the fact that I am 'teaching' them (or 'enabling' them). They may not always be willing to begin or approach something they are not interested in/or are afraid of/or bored by, but about 70% of the time they don't regret being given a 'foot up'...the sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching the heights of....erm...accomplishment, is second to none. I wouldn't call my input at these times as 'force' but there are shades of 'coercion'.

But like I say, 70% of the time (enough to make it worth the effort) the kids are happy about what I am supporting them to begin/persevere with (am talking about stuff like getting more help with reading, maths etc). They are happy once they have completed or began something that didn't seem like what they wanted in the first place but turned out to be something they did want/need.

It is important for me not to get too 'precious' about these things...uptight parenting does my head in. I'm not perfect nor do I aim to be. I reckon my kids will survive this. After all, they are feisty and I doubt me being input minded from time to time will affect this in any way.

Meaning: that my answer to the question how much is too much? is that I reckon it is too much when we are on our kids backs all the time watching them and considering every little thing we do as having an effect on them. I vote for a relaxed honest style of parenting - warts and all, which would mean giving honest input when and if needed..even if this goes against an idea of how things 'should' be.

Getting to the point when we are treading on eggshells around our kids' creative urges is not a point I want to reach..they have to understand that they are not central to our world...rather that we are central and they are around tried and tested personal wisdom is that children become insecure if they are always placed centrally and the parents are tiptoeing around their 'needs'.

Children cannot consider our needs in the same way that we can consider their needs...but often the considering of their needs is a hidden way of sorting out our own stuff- our kids become our means of proving ourself to ourself if we place them so centrally and then expect them to develop one way or makes sense if we can try and realise that. MEANING: as for input....the healthiest way to decide whether to get in there or not is to sort out where WE are first. Input or standing back: it is why we are doing it that makes the difference.

Your posts are ace Gill, always thought and comment provoking :) I don't comment very often because I know when I do it becomes a bloomin essay!

10:32 am, August 19, 2007  
Blogger Ruth said...

"Wow, Ruth - I didn't know we'd played a part in that decision. Great news about D and yes, I'm still learning and getting nice surprises too, having never had a HEing 4 year-old at home, from scratch."

I think it is the from scratch bit I have found hard tbh. All the rest had a year in school, at the very least, and it lulled me into a false sense of security. Namely believing rubbish reports about what they could do then finding out afterwards it wasn't true. However I was much more laid back with them. Also I don't know any rl a.e.:) so am treated like a "loose cannon" by the LA.

12:09 pm, August 19, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

EF, first: thanks for the lovely compliment! It's mutual, I tell ya ;-)

Second, I agree about making them the centre of everything. But I think ideally no one family member has any more or less importance than any other. The compulsory education silliness means we all put great store by any learning that happens up to age 25ish, and not much after that, which seems a bit nonsensical to me, to say the least.

I still don't know where I stand re: giving approval and praise. I give great dollops of both out liberally and lavishly, but that's because as a child I had the complete opposite and I'm trying to fix that for my children, probably by going too far the other way. *Rolls eyes @ self*. Also, I grew up in the sure knowledge that my opinion on anything was absolutely not important to anyone, so I find it difficult to actually work out what I like from what I dislike, and determining 'bad' from 'good'. I just tend to love the output because I love the child.

Having said that I am aware of my tendency to do the above, so I try to work on myself in that respect. If I'm presented with a picture I'm not scared of asking "What is it?" and I find that it's not taken as an insult, but that the child is pleased to explain to me what's going on, then we can talk about that and get away from things being "Wow, really good!" - but I gather from chatting to people that my 'improved' approach is classic textbook parenting according to quite a few different sources, which unsettles me somewhat. Not that I read many (any) parenting textbooks. Perhaps I should.

Children do consider our needs! Far too much, for my liking, from a spookily early age. Increasingly I notice how vitally important it is for their happiness that I'm ok and behaving in a safe, predictable fashion. If I was even vaguely Machiavellian I could have a ball exploiting this, which is worrying for humanity in general, but also it's making me review my own childhood from yet another different perspective, even more alarming than previous ones.

Ruth, it's amazing how much difference just one year in school can make, isn't it? There's a lot less resistance to learning initially at least, and yes I also found that school reports bore little resemblance to a child's real abilities.

11:14 pm, August 19, 2007  
Blogger Merry said...

I was a "back off" child; them inute my parents got over involved, i wasn't interested. That said, i was desperate for them to be supportive, ubt unless they deemed it "academic" or "worthy of the money they spent on it" they weren't. There are well remembered experiences of this between my sister and i, both of us took up an instrument, but each of us then got followed by a parent, who strove to compete with us and thereby stole the experience and we dropped it.

I have to say, thoguh i might be an "over enthusiastic" home educator, this simply hasn't been my experience with my children. Perhaps it is because thy've never been to school, or perhaps, by chance, we've got it right.

I can honestly say though, that we've never been so miserable as these last 18 months when i've bene withdrawn from their experience, they are much happier, as am i, when we are all working away and finding things to do together. I've never had one of them withdraw from me. Quite the reverse in fact, they ALWAYS want us to be involved in some way, either showing, or learning with, or leading, or listening. It never seems to matter whether the motivation comes from them first, or me first.

The only time i can think of this happening in reverse was when Maddy got interested in Egypt; Fran had done her Tudor thing and lapped up everythingi could give her, yet Maddy developed an obsession with Egypt but was UTTERLY resistant to being taught about it. She didn't want to learn, she just wanted to know. So i just provided books and kits and left her to it. 2 years later, she doesn't have many facts but hse does have a clear mental image and notion of the art, imagery and lifestyle of ancient egypt and recently she said she thought she might quite like to do a project on it now.

I have to say, i think my greatest mistake has been to think that any "educational theory or style" has an bearing in my home. Actually, just us 6 have a bearing in this home and the better i've got at ignoring how anyone prescribes HE works best, the happier we've been. I've kidded myself this last year that the kids were "being autonomous" but in truth, though they've been happy enough and they've learned new skills, i don't think they've had as much fun as when i take a more active role.

A lot of that, as you say, comes down to attitude; they've no doubt sensed my withdrawal more than their own autonomy but i don't think that it alters the bare facts; in some HE households, all sorts of mummy-flinging-herself-in-boots-first types of approaches can make kids happy too.


9:02 am, August 20, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Ooh Merry, that's food for thought - as your comments often are. I love how the Egypt project worked out and the fact that you completely adapted and did it differently for each child. I think that's what I was trying to get at in my post.

I also think your "Actually, just us 6 have a bearing in this home and the better i've got at ignoring how anyone prescribes HE works best, the happier we've been," statement should be quoted at the front of every discussion about HE, because it's surely true for every household and every family.

We all come to HE from our different backgrounds and experiences - it's different in every house, for every child and for every parent - it's different every day!

I'm moving away from labels in my own thinking at last, but I still don't think I've got over the shock yet of realising, 8 yrs ago, that by trying to *teach* T, A & Z I was actually putting them off learning. It was probably the supreme effort of getting my head around that which made me such a passionate advocate of autonomy, but they had years of deschooling to do.

With Lyddie now it's different and I can see where she's benefitting from more input. I'm just scared of overdoing it again. (Not that I blame myself much for T, A & Z'a resistance to learning: the damage was done at school.)

She does seem to benefit from a responsive approach, but she's only 4. I'll have to try and work out what's best for her as she gets older. I can't imagine ever compelling her to do anything though. But I don't know, maybe I do in some ways.

I don't actually know anything about anything regarding HE, beyond my perception of my own children's reactions to things. I hope I haven't given the impression that I do.

10:40 am, August 20, 2007  
Blogger 'EF' said...

The 'what is it?' about's a natural thing to ask...I went through a year when I was working at the waldorf kindergarten where I was ordered not to ever ask that of a kid (because the teachers needed to be able to interpret the pictures during their coffee breaks and prove that little Jimmy's drawing of a ninja turtles proves that he is watching too much teevee and not playing with bits of bark enough and that his parents are sloshed every evening)....

But Ash loves it when I ask him 'what is it?' because then he can tell me that it is peter pan and captain hook having a sword fight and that peter pan is winning etc..which I really wouldn't have understood from what appear to be random squiggles on a page to me.

EEK..just thought of another style though..I know a woman who operates a policy of always saying what she thinks of her kids creations, which means I've overheard her just on the few times I've been there saying of a painting: "I don't like that painting.." or of her daughters outfit: "I don't like those shorts, I've never liked that colour.." Her poor kids faces! To be honest they looked sad and embarrassed for their mother not of themselves.

About praise: I think it is better to praise from the heart as you do Gill, like Marylin Monroe said: "all little girls (I would say children) need to be told they are beautiful, even if they are not" (apparantly she wasn't).

12:31 pm, August 20, 2007  
Blogger Merry said...

I can only assume, thoguh i can't actually know, that the child who comes to HE 'school damaged' by which i only mean where school has been actively disasterous as opposed to just choosing to change to HE, is a very different kettle of fish to the 'always HE'd in a life is for living and shaking by the trunk to see how many apples drop' child.

I can only assume my children react as they do because there is no damage to their interestsand learning processes. They perceive everything we do as normal and for their benefit. TBH, my sole bit of schoolyness is asking everyone to do half an hours maths, read a couple of chapters of something and spend 15 minutes on something musical each day. It might seem structured, but i think because it stretches them, is the key to an otherwise free day and they know i'm asking because it's going to be useful to them to practise those skills, they never complain.

Watch, starting tomorrow it will no doubt all go wrong now!

8:20 pm, August 20, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

EF, *shudder* at that Waldorf place of yours. Just goes to show what happens when you set up a system that tries to force people to be 'good'? Thanks for the Marilyn quote ;-) It reminds me of (a not-funny) one by Joan Rivers though, which I read in an interview a couple of years ago. When asked why she'd had so much plastic surgery she said it was because her mother had convinced her she was beautiful, then she went to school, looked at the other girls, and realised she wasn't. 60+(?) years later, she's still trying to make that right. LOL, yet another reason not to send your children to school!

Merry, yes they certainly are very, very different. I'm only just now realising how different. I want to be clear though, that I think the damage to T, A & Z was caused by them attending school from 3/4 years old through to 10, 9 and 7 respectively, and not being given any choice in the matter. If I'd kept them home in the early years and then allowed them to attend school if they wished as older children, I think they'd have been fine. I've got nothing against autonomous schooling!

"I can only assume my children react as they do because there is no damage to their interests and learning processes."

That's brilliant - you've done very well there then. A good thing too because that kind of damage can take years to fix, as we discovered here. If they do the structured bit and then stay engaged and interested in things for the rest of the day, there's obviously no damage being done. My lot would switch off like zombies as soon as the schooling session finished.

8:23 am, August 21, 2007  
Blogger Mieke said...

**sighing with contentment**
Just sat down with a cup of tea. Dh & kids have gone camping, I've been makings lists and packing boxes and talking to financial advisors, and now it's time to chill out and do some soul feeding. I've been following the comments on this post and it has been hugely inspiring and the cause of many smiles and 'yes' exclamations.
How much input is too much? It’s an issue that I’ve been wondering about quite a lot. And the answer, I find, is ever changing. There are however a few conclusions I’ve come to based on observations in our family.

**Gill: Oh, there’s the 3rd party thing again. Is there a blatantly obvious (except for me) reason for that, I wonder?**

I wouldn’t dare call it ‘the reason’, but I do have a thought about that. I think it has to do with the natural respect children have for genuine authority. I know for myself that I often perceive these 3rd parties as ‘soulful teachers’. They possess certain knowledge and - and this is I think a very important aspect - they are keen to share it with people who are willing to learn. And because most children are very perceptive they pick up on that. I’ve noticed that for instance with the beekeeper in Holland, who taught our family the basics of beekeeping, I see it with Owen’s boss / teacher in the birds of prey centre, I see it with Myrna’s singing teacher.
And I also remember history was my favourite subject in school, and that had everything to do with the teacher.

**Gill: Children do consider our needs! Far too much, for my liking, from a spookily early age. Increasingly I notice how vitally important it is for their happiness that I’m ok and behaving in a safe, predicable fashion.**

I totally agree with that. And my personal observation is that if I do have any expectations of my children, they’ll be aware of it and they will try and fulfil them. And that’ll go as far as rejecting encouragement or support from me because of the way I offer it. Which might be hesitantly, as if I’m expecting them to refuse it because I think they’ll much rather sort it out by themselves...
It’s one of the reasons why I am hesitant to calling ourselves autonomous learners, because before you know it, it has become a label, and labels tend to have all these expectations stuck to them.

**Gill: With Lyddie now it's different and I can see where she's benefitting from more input.**

Yes, I have also noticed the difference between the two older children that have gone to school before being HE-d and the youngest one, who at 12 has never been to school (yet). But I think there’s more to it than just the school-factor. The youngest is also reaping the benefits of the hard work the other two have done trying to teach me what motherhood is all about.
Myrna is a lot more open to my input, but at the same time she doesn’t hesitate to tell me when she thinks I’m out of my depth or she would rather do it herself or learn from someone else, or she’s just not interested at all (hardly ever happens;)).

8:30 pm, August 21, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes there are natural teachers, aren't there? Often people who don't even realise they're teachers, but who are just so interested in their expert field that they're fascinating to listen to and learn from.

"And that’ll go as far as rejecting encouragement or support from me because of the way I offer it."

Yes I read this and it struck a chord with me Mieke. I can't really explain why. I have 'learned' from my children, that intrinsic motivation is a delicate, easily damaged thing. Maybe it's not always as fragile as all that though. I don't know. I wouldn't risk it again, such as by sending my children to school unless they really wanted to attend, or insisting we learn something specific. The learning is happening anyway, so I don't need to worry about this too much, thank goodness.

"The youngest is also reaping the benefits of the hard work the other two have done trying to teach me what motherhood is all about."

LOL yes, our baby should get the optimum upbringing, given that I've had 6 others to practice on first! ;-)

9:17 am, August 23, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post reminded me of when I was a child and became inhibited to ask my mum what a word meant. I wanted an instant answer and to get on with what I was doing. She would give various definitions for different contexts, then pull out all the books and insist that I should continue to be interested. She'd also get sidetracked onto homophones and synonyms. I really understand now where she is coming from! Happily, my kids will just say 'get on with it then Mum, but I'm busy with this.' and leave me to it!!!

I had a hilarious correspondence with someone recently. We were discussing what enables you to know you are getting things right with your kids. My measure was that my eldest daughter would tell me things I'd never dream of telling my mum (or anyone!) ... keeping avenues of communication open ... that's my measure. Hers was whether they behaved well out to tea, and whether she got complements. Measured that way ... oh horror of horrors ... we'd come off pretty poorly.

"ok Mum, you get on with it, I'm busy with this." sounds pretty much like open avenues of communication!!! I've learned to find it amusing rather than a bash to my ego or self-importance ... thankfully!±

2:14 pm, August 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so many comments to read through! What a wonderful discussion.

I found reading Unconditional Parenting (Alfie Cohen) really useful for clarifying for me my discomfort with praise, and helping me understand why at least one of my kids will almost always instantly try to prove me wrong! (how 'ungrateful' of them ;-))
If it is too global, the praise is something intimidating to try to live up to. It is almost like Lani wants to dash my hopes before they become too overwhelming for her to live up to. I try to stick to evaluation of a distinct thing. But I have contentions with that, because she is usually more perceptive about her stuff than I am, and when I just listen to what she thinks about it I learn a lot more, see a lot more, and don't then see her starting to become mistrusting of her own judgment, which she does seem to do very quickly when I'm doing the evaluating.

I really do quiver that my backseat is too much of one. But then I remember that most kids in school have weeks off or months off at a time, evenings, weekends, etc. I'm always reassured to see that my guys just seem to learn it all without any planning or conscious input, and I can get over my sense of under-involvement, and write a few blog posts/comments whilst they experience inflating the birth pool, or whatever it is they are up to right now.!

2:30 pm, August 30, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Hi Sally,

"Happily, my kids will just say 'get on with it then Mum, but I'm busy with this.' and leave me to it!!!"

LOL, that's great! Mine are too polite, I fear. Well, one isn't but at least two will try to feign interest even though their eyes have glazed over. Well, one does that and I like to think the other one really is interested, although perhaps he's just too good an actor...! Who knows? ;-)

"I found reading Unconditional Parenting (Alfie Cohen) really useful for clarifying for me my discomfort with praise"

That's about the 3rd recent mention I've heard of that book, so now I really want to read it. I might just head over to Amazon and order it, in a rash impulsive moment of madness!

Happy birthing to you Sally xx

6:02 pm, August 30, 2007  

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