Okay, this is really random today. We have had a very adventuresome week and lots of great photos to share for next, but today I need a small nap! So I'm saving the photos for next week (or maybe tomorrow, we'll see!).
I'm not sure why, but a couple of my posts about speaking positively to kids seem to get the most traffic around here. I find it to be really encouraging that parents out there are trying to find ways to speak more positively to their kids! So, this is really random for today, but I had something along those lines I wanted to share.
My son has been playing goalie for his soccer team this season. Let me tell you, I think he does a fantastic job, especially considering he hasn't ever had any formal goalie training. And maybe it is a blessing or a curse, but his team has lost nearly every game they've played, and, before he started playing goalie full time, they lost by a lot (I told myself I didn't care about winning, until this very deflating experience-- I have a new perspective on mercy rules). I think the positive in here is that if your team isn't that good, at least the goalie is getting lots of action and practice! Just think how boring it would be being keeper for a really good team. I have also been touched by the amount of support the boys on our team get. We have a huge cheering section, even in bad weather, and I have been touched by all the parents who come out to watch their sons get creamed.
As you know, I used to play soccer too, only I played on the opposite end of the field, as a forward.
Here is the thing: as a goalie, no matter how well you do, you can never do better than "0." You could be the best goalie in the world, and yet, your best efforts can only keep you at that 0 mark. More than likely, you aren't perfect, so each mistake is a strike against you and your team. A forward, in contrast, has nothing to lose (this analogy is a little loose, just stick with me). Each goal she scores is one above 0, hence the glory of the forward. Contrast how often you see people jumping up and down hugging a goalie or performing crazy antics after a save, as opposed to how forwards are treated after a goal.
I'm not articulating this very well. So forwards get a lot of positive praise, because each goal they score is a bonus, while playing goalie is sort of a losing endeavor because you get in trouble if you slip up, as each goal scored on you is a strike against you, so to speak.
The same is true of grades in school, in a way. I used to think it was crazy that 80% was such a low score, because, in my book, it was 80 points more than 0! And yet that 80% is looked at by teachers more as a subtraction from 100, not an addition over 0.
This made me realize-- how do I treat my kids? Do I hold them to that 100% mark, and anything they do less than perfect is reprimanded? Or do I look at each thing they do well, or good, and see that as a number greater than 0? Do I treat them as a goalie or a forward?
I have always responded so much better to positive praise than I have to criticism, reprimands, or punishments. I imagine most kids are the same way? So often it seems so easy to ignore the good behavior, and just focus on the behavior that is out of line. It seems worthwhile to me to understand which approach I'm taking, and to make sure I stay positive, helping my child feel safe making mistakes, and feel validated, cheered for, and reinforced for all the good things he or she is doing. The response in a child to positive reinforcement can be absolutely life changing for both parent and child. (and especially those with ADD, update coming soon)
Clear as mud.