Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I realize that parents are prone to hyperbole. And I am learning from reading "Nurture Shock" that children around at the age 6 or 7 start to distinguish between genuine and exaggerated praise. Children tune out not only the disingenuous praise -the "you're great and so smart"- but all praise bestowed on them by over eager parents. And even worse, children who receive excessive generalized praise become risk averse, electing to maintain the appearance of being smart rather that to risk failure.

This weighs heavily on me for a simple reason. Everyday Munch does something I deem amazing and praise worthy. Last night I asked her to bring me "Good Night Moon". She looked around the pile of books, found the requested, and brought to over to me. I almost started crying. I feel this way every time she does something new, and since she has been doing something new pretty much daily since the day of her birth, you would assume I would be used to this. But the best part of parenthood is that the new never gets old. All I can do is stare at this little unknowable creature and wonder at her intent. And praise. 

Loudly, with great gusto, grand gesticulations, and bravado. As if she had just recited the Gettysburg address. In Latin. While playing the viola. The distinction between superfluous, effusive praise and positive constructive feedback seems obvious until applied to your child, at which point it dissolves into an amorphous mess. I can’t make the distinction myself, so maybe it is best to not try at all.  

I can’t help but be gleeful when she does any new thing, including but not limited to taking her clothes off in public, climbing up on the dining table to stick her finger in a pat of butter, drinking directly from the hot tub, and using her water cup to make a soup with whatever was intended to be lunch. They are all, in their own peanut-butter-smeared-couch way, accomplishments. We are also learning our colors and parts of the body, our favorite of which is the tum tum. In response to "Where's your tum tum?" She will gleefully pick up her shirt and pat her little pannus. 

And if you are lucky, she will then pick up your shirt, or maybe your dress, and verify placement of your tum tum as well. I do think she is brilliant.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thanks Dani. I can't wait to hear Abigail has arrived. Please let me know when/if you are Northern Cali. Much love and best wishes.


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