Re: DSM: RE: personal observations regarding praise and encouragement

Susan Jarquin (
Sun, 31 Dec 2000 08:39:13 -0800

    Is it appropriate to discuss issues that are on the other side? For instance, I spent
time one day with some teenagers driving them to a Rock Concert. The one girl, a pretty good
friend of my daughters, stated that her mother was White Trash, because she enjoyed pottery.
I do not personally know the mother.
    I have had personal situations of being the only white person in a room and listening to
people talk about all white people as White Trash. I finally reached a point where I had to
start making a statement that this offended me personally. I just say something like this:
Since I am a white person and I enjoyed living in a trailer park as a teenager, it would
probably be appropriate for me to exclude myself from this conversation and walk away.
    So when the girl made this statement, it was my natural reaction to speak with her about
my negative feelings about her statement. So, was I trying to discourage her from making
those statements? The interesting thing is that my daughters friends are all frightened of
me. (Public Schooled Children) However, when they have a problem they call my daughter and
ask for my advise. Maybe it's my willingness to share my honest opinion with them.
    What is the Heartlight group?

David Rovner wrote:

> Concerning praise and encouragement, what can be more instructive than looking at
> Evaluation -- Free at last.
> I wish to direct your attention -- as a "thinking material" (chomer lemachshaba, in
> Hebrew) -- to Evaluation, Free at last -- Sudbury Valley School, by Daniel Greenberg,
> If we are already talking about the subject, I'm sure you'll agree with me that this
> material gives an excellent perspective on the subject:
> [following I bring relevant excerpts (emphasis is mine.- D.R.)]:
> "One day I was playing catch with a six year old. Each time he threw, and each
> time he tried to catch, I "encouraged" him: "Good Job"; "Nice throw"; "Great try."
> Suddenly, he threw the ball at me angrily and shouted, "I don't want to play with you
> any more. Your'e lying. I threw terribly; it wasn't at all good, and your'e a big faker."
> Of course he was right. And I was wrong. It was another valuable lesson for me
> at school . . ."
> ". . . At the heart of Sudbury Valley is the policy that we don't rate people. We
> don't compare them to each other, or to some standard we have set. For us, such an
> The school is not a judge. . ."
> ". . . And what we gain at school, as a bonus from our no-grading and no-rating
> policy, is an atmosphere free of competition among students or battles for adult
> approval. At Sudbury Valley, people help each other all the time. They have no reason
> not to."
> A child is not a cat, and dealing with children is not animal-training/taming, even
> though public schools and governments, ALL OF THEM, and a lot of parents, think
> they are allowed everything, including indoctrination (#@%&) ! !
> David
> ---------- Original Message ----------
> What fun. I enjoy all the thoughtful remarks from the Heartlight group
> regarding encouragement. Made me think.
> When I worked with retarded adults we scheduled and counted our encouraging
> remarks. They were not sincere always, but at least we were beginning to
> take notice of our own behaviors as we made a point of noticing their
> behaviors.
> More recently, with children, I consider whether to give praise 1) when the
> child seems to come looking for it, and 2) when I am genuinely delighted and
> wish to voice my interest. It seems these two forms of praise are how most
> adults treat other adults.
> My cat gets tons of praise. I wanted to take responsibility for the quality
> of life I create for myself and the cat. So I considered that being
> unresponsive in the cat's presence modeled arrogance and disdain. Being
> aloof in the cat's presence affected both of us. I decided that the cat's
> presence was a prompt for me to undo my heart of arrogance and disdain. I
> began telling the cat she is appreciated and beautiful, and thanked her for
> kind gestures (cat style hugs and kisses). She learned to reply when I
> asked, "are you hungry?" and she gets her favorite catfood. When scratching
> my favorite chair she gets roughed up playfully. Now she uses my favorite
> chair to ask for play (not ideal, but its my own doing). So she has control
> of food, play, and also asking for a door or window to be opened. The
> results of all this are 1) a sense lightness and honor in a relationship of
> mutual respect, 2) enhancement of my self-appreciation as an effect on
> others, 3) enhancement of the cat's ability to get needs met in a human
> environment, 4) the odd assortment of comments people make about an
> extraordinary cat when they visit my house, 5) a sense of obligation to take
> time for encouragement when this seems a distraction from my personal time
> (but the distraction is probably time well spent).
> My behavior regarding encouragement is being shaped over the years. It has
> gone from rather condescending comments of flattery for my own benefit, to
> praise in behalf of others for the sake of our relationship, to sincere
> heartfelt responses for an intuited higher good. And this intuition is
> evolving as I reconsider my perception in light of Joseph Pearce's comments
> on studies of human development.
> It is looking as though ideal encouragement is a mother's 100% attention to
> an infant without any tension. Ideal encouragement is a safe,
> free-to-adventure environment that expands with the child's abilities, with
> a few safety and personal respect boundries, but no judgements, no anger, no
> value system imposed (love and adventure are the only values, and, these are
> for the sake of human development as an inborn value, Godsent if you will).
> Ideal encouragement is adults welcoming a child into their environment as
> 100% play, and children welcoming adults into their play as equals. No
> judgements, no values, just imagination and adventure. Again the adventure
> expands as ability expands. Ideal encouragement is the playful way adults
> learned in childhood to go about tasks with enthusiam and cooperation, and
> so they share this with others at a job or in the community, and at home
> with their children. It is about love. Fight or flight never gets developed
> as a way of life. In its place are models who demonstrate the functionality
> of empathy, honesty, creativity and following your joy.
> Did you see Robin Williams in Jack? The movie was on tv tonight. Robin plays
> a kid who grows too fast into an adult body. I enjoyed the contrast between
> the children's love of adventure and the adults' love of value judgements.
> (It isn't that values don't develop, but because we choose not to value what
> does not work, fight-flight as a value system does not develop. What does
> develop is open to what does work better and better.)
> The other day it was as if the cat noticed my lack of ability to mimic her
> growl, so she changed her voice to mimic my deep rumbling vocalization. I
> was totally flattered.
> robert
> on 12/20/00 10:04 PM, at
> wrote:
> > Hello all,
> > I guess I'm "old school" afterall. After reading the conversations and
> > opinions regarding praise and encouragement, I made some personal
> > observations at my school.
> > I have numerous students visiting me in my classroom throughout the day,
> > just to sit and "gab." I found that I have the habit of finding something
> > nice to say about them, either something I saw them do or heard them say that
> > was "good." Their overall behaviors always improve in my classes, their self
> > esteem is demonstrably improved, and their undesirable negative behaviors
> > disolve.
> > My boss's 2 year old son was in a room with a single, well carpeted
> > step. He jumped it! I said "Wow, you're a good jumper!" He joyfully jumped
> > it at least a dozen more times while I talked with his father. At the end of
> > our short conversation, I said loudly to his father, "Your son is really good
> > at jumping!" The little guy started jumping like a gazelle, back and forth,
> > back and forth, smiling the whole time. I couldn't help myself, it just came
> > out of my mouth. We all enjoyed it.
> > I noticed the frequency of praise and encouragement I shared throughout
> > the day. It pleased me to do so. It pleased the children to hear it. I
> > have a great relationship with my students. The "troubled teens" come into
> > class and do well in a way that is enjoyable for all. Then they graduate and
> > successfully go on to high school, college and careers.
> > When I stopped to put gas in my car, the clerk smiled and commented on my
> > outfit looking nice. I want to be dressed nice when I go there next time. I
> > want to get gas there again.
> > Many of you consider these things negative external behavior
> > manipulations. I consider them... pleasurable. They work, easily.
> > What are the results of your focus on intrinsic self satisfaction? I'm
> > really having a hard time trying to understand how my silence would have had
> > the success rate my caring created.
> > Marlene

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