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    #164675 - 08/17/13 08:43 PM Innoculation against external messaging
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2268
    As a carryover from a discussion on pp.24 of the quirky anecdote thread, how have parents addressed toxic external messaging from outsiders across ages?

    DS21mo is constantly on the receiving end of hyperbolic praise from strangers. I imagine we're not unique in this regard in the community, and I foresee "dealing with external messaging related to identity" effectively being a way of life for our children.

    Perhaps it's best to split the sources of messaging into 2 groups, as the strategies we use will be different depending on whether the "messengers" are:

    1. Significant influences to our DC (parents, grandparents, teachers, etc), or
    2. Others



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    #164679 - 08/17/13 10:00 PM Re: Innoculation against external messaging [Re: aquinas]
    22B Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/10/13
    Posts: 1228
    Why is praise "toxic"?

    This seems to be the opposite problem to what some have where people refuse to acknowledge their children's abilities.

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    #164682 - 08/18/13 12:41 AM Re: Innoculation against external messaging [Re: 22B]
    ColinsMum Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/08
    Posts: 1898
    Loc: Scotland
    Originally Posted By: 22B
    Why is praise "toxic"?

    This seems to be the opposite problem to what some have where people refuse to acknowledge their children's abilities.

    Note the phrase was "hyperbolic praise", probably meaning the "o wow you're a GENIUS you're bound to win a Nobel prize" kind - but I think the more ordinary kind can by toxic too.

    In very brief:

    - That kind sets up unrealistic expectations and sets the child up for disappointment, or if they see through the hyperbole, for mistrust of what people say in general

    - "You're smart" (especially repeated thousands of times by different people) encourages a fixed, not a growth, mindset. ("I succeed because I'm smart; if I fail at something, it will threaten my reality by suggesting I'm not smart after all") There's actually decent research showing [in one experimental setting, blah blah] that telling people they're smart after they've done something makes them less likely to accept a challenge.

    - Even the usually approved "you worked so hard at that; I love how you made the grass orange" kind isn't completely innocuous: one can be training one's child to prefer someone else's judgement over their own, and to need someone else's approval of what they do instead of just enjoying it.

    The most typical kind of acknowledgement people here want of their children's abilities is the kind that gets them appropriate education, which is very different.

    A polemic on this, with discussion of research but not impartial discussion, is Kohn's Punished by Rewards
    http://www.alfiekohn.org/books/pbr.htm

    On fixed v growth I recommend Dweck's book Self-theories. (This is her "scholarly" book on the subject; there's also the popularising Mindsets, which I haven't read but which others have recommended here.)
    http://www.amazon.com/Self-theories-Motivation-Personality-Development-Psychology/dp/1841690244/


    Edited by ColinsMum (08/18/13 12:57 AM)
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    #164691 - 08/18/13 05:20 AM Re: Innoculation against external messaging [Re: aquinas]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2268
    Thanks ColinsMum. I've read a few Dweck articles and will look into the book you recommended.
    _________________________
    Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

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    #164693 - 08/18/13 06:00 AM Re: Innoculation against external messaging [Re: aquinas]
    lilmisssunshine Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/01/13
    Posts: 163
    In my case, people often comment about my children's looks. About 85% of the time I'm out with them, someone will stop me and say, "My god, your children are stunning. You should get them into modeling." or some variation of that. It's flattering (and of course, I think they're gorgeous), but I also don't want them to think that they're only a pretty face.

    After 4 years of this, I've now started replying something along the lines of, "Yes, we're really lucky. They're also bright and well-behaved." or if I'm feeling cheeky, "They're so lucky. They got their father's looks and their mother's brains."

    I would expect that you can deflect the intelligence comments with something like, "Well, everyone has to work hard to reach their full potential..."


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    #164695 - 08/18/13 06:37 AM Re: Innoculation against external messaging [Re: aquinas]
    momoftwins Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/27/13
    Posts: 156
    Now that my twins are 6.5 yrs old, they don't elicit as many spontaneous "Oh, he is SO smart" comments, but when they were younger, I would usually say something like "He is really interested in learning," or "he likes to read," or "he loves (subject X). I think that type of comment hit a peak at age 4 - once they turned five and acted "older" their comments just weren't as shocking to others, as they didn't appear so young.

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    #164697 - 08/18/13 08:07 AM Re: Innoculation against external messaging [Re: aquinas]
    aquinas Offline
    Member

    Registered: 11/02/12
    Posts: 2268
    Thanks all for the feedback. Perhaps I should specify that I'm not concerned about responding to the comments from strangers, but rather am focusing on how to help our children avoid internalizing the comments. An effective retort is a good first-line defence, but more is needed.

    I'd be interested to hear, particularly, about the different approaches parents have used to manage frequent excessive praise from relatives and authority figures, like teachers and coaches versus strangers' comments. ColinsMum makes a good point about promoting a growth mindset.
    _________________________
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    #164698 - 08/18/13 08:11 AM Re: Innoculation against external messaging [Re: aquinas]
    Floridama Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/27/09
    Posts: 389
    Loc: Florida
    I try to get my children to understand that the views/opinions/words of other's are not the whole picture...and not just with praise.
    If they are able to understand someone else's perspective separate from their own, then I believe that they are less likely to be affected by it.
    We often talk about people's (real life and on TV) comments, actions, choice of dress, in an objective sense as way to understand others.
    The down side is that my kids now consider me a biased source for praise LOL

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    #164703 - 08/18/13 08:34 AM Re: Innoculation against external messaging [Re: aquinas]
    Zen Scanner Offline
    Member

    Registered: 07/13/12
    Posts: 1478
    Loc: NC
    Similar to Floridama, DS understands that people are biased and often uninformed. He understands things like brain plasticity and that even his crazy math skills are some aptitude combined with his passionate pursuit of the topic.

    I try to give him unbiasable feedback. I own my own emotional response to something he does and he can place his own value on that: "I'm happy you did X... I'm amazed at how well your work seems to have payed off... I'm impressed you've come so far...." I think sarcasm and lots of joking help, because that keeps him practiced on evaluating the source and intent of a message, and comes naturally to us. I grew up highly uncomfortable with praise and took me many years to overcome self-deprecation or excusing away success. I think some of that was from a survival instinct to not be focused on the wrong side of the stick.

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    #164704 - 08/18/13 08:40 AM Re: Innoculation against external messaging [Re: aquinas]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Originally Posted By: aquinas
    Thanks all for the feedback. Perhaps I should specify that I'm not concerned about responding to the comments from strangers, but rather am focusing on how to help our children avoid internalizing the comments. An effective retort is a good first-line defence, but more is needed.

    I'd be interested to hear, particularly, about the different approaches parents have used to manage frequent excessive praise from relatives and authority figures, like teachers and coaches versus strangers' comments. ColinsMum makes a good point about promoting a growth mindset.


    In our experience, there IS no great, foolproof way to do that.

    The more unusual your child is, the more these messages will resonate with them (because let's face it, high intellectual ability often comes with perceptiveness and a great deal of insight per unit age)...

    ergo, they KNOW that they are unlike their peers. They know that they are more capable, that others seem "slow" comparatively, etc.

    Further, this lends credence to the value judgments pronounced by others because they are plausible.

    ETA: My DD relies upon her dad and I as a rock in this respect-- we will always give her an unvarnished opinion of her performance/results. Our standards are VERY high. If she does a half-baked job on a school assignment, I'm likely to be more honest than the teacher is.

    So when I offer praise-- she KNOWS that it's genuine.

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