Saturday, June 8, 2013

Connect your neurons!

A few weeks ago one of my dear readers, violajack, suggested an article on the power of praise. Yeah, you should probably go ahead and click on that link and read it. It's lengthy, but worth it. Go ahead. I'll wait.


Okay, now that we're all on the same page, let me just say that I am so glad she shared this with me. I've always made a point of praising Jena for her accomplishments, but the fact is I wasn't. Instead of praising her for doing good work, I was telling her she was smart, she was strong, she was {insert blank}.

And I got it. Her teacher gets it too. The lead teacher in her class, the one who has over 20 years of teaching experience, gets it. When the kids are learning a new task, she tells them they are connecting their neurons. I've heard it with my own ears.

"Connect your neurons!" she'll say, encouraging them to keep at it until they get it.

She gets it.

And so I'm working not to praise Jena less, necessarily, but to change the way I praise her.

When she gets all her math problems correct, instead of saying "Great job! You're so smart." I now say something like "Great job! I'm proud of you for working hard to learn your math!"

When she pulls herself up, using all her arm strength, instead of saying "You're so strong!" I say something like "Look at you! You kept trying until you got it! Awesome!"

And whatever it is, if we have a few moments for a longer talk, I'll throw in something reminding her of she couldn't do it previously, and how proud I am of her for keeping at it, and now just look at her, she's doing it.

I think sometimes we all fall into this pattern of saying things without really thinking of the message we're sending. It's something I've definitely been more cognizent of since reading the article, and something I'm working toward changing.

As always, thanks for checking in!

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