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Old 04-14-2015, 03:25 PM #1
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Default do children need praise or affection?

I am having a hard time convincing my boyfriend that kids need positive feedback, encouragement and praise for things that they do successfully in their lives. I am aware of the phenomenon of overpraise or praise for things that don't really warrant praise (like obeying the laws of gravity). That's not my question. Where the disagreement lies is as follows: he thinks things that are expected, like making one's bed or behaving appropriately in general, aren't worthy of praise. He basically feels that only exceptional or amazing behavior or accomplishments are worthy of encouragement or praise. Like a 5 year old kid that could catch a pass thrown by a pro quarterback--now that is worthy of praise in his mind. But my argument is that when kids are working on mastering new or unfamiliar tasks or even just tasks they have not mastered yet, they need praise and encouragement to keep them motivated and on the right track. Even simple things like using a napkin at the dinner table to wipe your face is new to a little kid and needs to be positively recognized when they get it right. And when they don't get it right good parents are not snarky or shaming or blaming but encouraging on how to do it right, even if it takes a 100 tries. Isn't patience part of good parenting? Being polite or cleaning up a mess or being patient or being helpful to someone else or even using the correct word to describe something--to me these are all things that are worthy of positive acknowledgement in young kids--at least an "atta boy" or "I like how you shared your toy". I don't mean gushing over every little thing. But these are not "amazing" or "extraordinary" achievements in his mind and not really worthy of any kind of praise.

Another area we seem to be at odds are in showing other nurturing behaviors like hugging, giving kisses, snuggling and other affectionate gestures. He really doesn't do these things much with his kids (lets say they are infrequent). I always thought that kids need a decent dose of these things in their lives to develop normally. Given parenting is the most studied area of psychology there must be data on the affects of encouragement and nurturing on the development that come down solidly on one side or the other on these topics. Isn't it better to nurture and encourage? Isn't it detrimental to not? Does anyone have some insight on the prevailing wisdom on all this? Not gut feelings here but hard data that we can read on the topic?
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Old 04-14-2015, 05:46 PM #2
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Default Re: do children need praise or affection?

hi twyla
i teach a parenting class that is built on the pricipal of building self esteem in children so that if they are feeling good about themselves they will make good choices in life to continue to cultivate that good feeling. the first week is on self esteem and i discuss with my parents the amount of power they have in their hands to build that self esteem in their children. self esteem is a fragile and delicate thing. one negative response can plummet your child's self esteem into the toilet where all the praise you are talking about continues to build your child's self esteem. it allows them to feel competent about the challenges of daily life. this encourages them to try more and do better. without positive reinforcement or only challenging them on the negative, they develop and attitude of why bother. and kisses hugs, they can never get enough of that. if you want to read some research on the parenting program i use, check out positiveaction.org or com. dont know which it is. they have a whole lot of research on how their program works to improve communication, family relationships, reduce drug use, violence, improve school work, etc.

welcome to psych central. you will find we have several forums where you can post about your concerns and receive feedback from other members. you will get a lot of support here. again, welcome
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Old 04-14-2015, 07:03 PM #3
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Default Re: do children need praise or affection?

twylah, welcome to Psych Central. Sorry to hear that you disagree on parenting. That can make things so tough trying to find the balance between overdoing it with reinforcement and the children or not enough reinforcing. It is a balancing act.

There are some professionally written articles in the Psych Central archives that address some of these issues.
Psych Central - Search results for Proper parenting of childrean
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Old 04-14-2015, 09:06 PM #4
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Default Re: do children need praise or affection?

When I was a young man I believed a lot as your boyfriend does; children should be praised when they do something exceptional. As I grew older and raised more children, I saw this belief was a mistake. Children need praised a great deal, even for small things because it gives them confidence to do even greater things. It also shows them that you are genuinely interested in them.

As to nurturing behaviors. I was raised with very little contact at all. It made me feel unwanted, unloved and even a burden as I grew up. By all means, hug your kids, kiss them, pat them on the head as you walk by, anything that makes them feel wanted and loved.

Last edited by Bernard54; 04-15-2015 at 12:04 AM. Reason: Quantum entanglement
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Old 04-15-2015, 08:31 PM #5
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Default Re: do children need praise or affection?

Thank you for the replies. I will check out the psych central links in the above posts. It's very challenging parenting with someone new. He has raised his kids thus far with his philosophy on parenting and his kids are amazingly compliant and easy to get along with so it's a really hard sell convincing him he is doing anything "wrong". I attribute much of his success to his just having low key, easy going kids by nature but his parenting style surely plays a role. I, on the other hand, have kids that are much higher strung--tons of energy, one with ADHD and ODD. They are much more curious, hands on, need a lot of coaching and redirection--they both hit the ground running and haven't looked back, as it were. Naturally, the easy assumption for him to make is that it's my parenting that is resulting in, shall we say, more challenging kids. Whereas I feel most of it is in their natures. Now combine the two parenting styles and whamo--problems. He wants to keep my kids at arms length and parent them like he has parented his kids and is surprised/disappointed that he is not getting the results he has gotten with his kids. This seems to have led him to conclude I have defective kids or am not doing an optimal job parenting. The biggest problem in this situation has arisen because he basically ignores or just tolerates my six year old daughter until she pisses him off enough that he unleashes a barrage of loud, angry sometimes hostile criticism and demands. There is no balance. There is no affection, encouragement or usually even much acknowledgment of her existence unless she is doing something wrong. Obviously I am not OK with this but how do you convince someone who has had such good luck with his wonderful children that all of our kids would likely benefit from a more balanced approach? How do I convince him that my little girl is normal and needs love, support and encouragement as a foil to the discipline? He isn't inclined to take my word for it since he has had easier outcomes with his kids.
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Old 04-16-2015, 03:24 PM #6
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Default Re: do children need praise or affection?

Honestly, this isn't about who is right or wrong, but whether you are okay tolerating this behavior towards your children? I have two young children and I would not be okay with someone treating them this way. My H and I have slightly different philosophies and I am certainly more nurturing and ready to give praise and he would say I coddle and spoil a bit. But he is loving and is good about praising, he just feels they should be pushed to do things on their own sooner than I force them to.

Do you live together? Really think about what his behavior is doing to your kids.
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Old 04-18-2015, 11:57 PM #7
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Default Re: do children need praise or affection?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Puglife View Post
Honestly, this isn't about who is right or wrong, but whether you are okay tolerating this behavior towards your children? I have two young children and I would not be okay with someone treating them this way. My H and I have slightly different philosophies and I am certainly more nurturing and ready to give praise and he would say I coddle and spoil a bit. But he is loving and is good about praising, he just feels they should be pushed to do things on their own sooner than I force them to.

Do you live together? Really think about what his behavior is doing to your kids.
We do live together. I talked to him about my concerns and he said he would try to do things differently but that it was hard when they are not his kids. Since then he is quieter about his criticisms--not yelling--and maybe he is criticizing a bit less but there is still no warmth and he still ignores her most of the time. Yeah, I have talked to some others who feel the way you do about it. It is kind of a deal breaker if it doesn't change. Just not sure how long I should give it to see if his "trying" results in a good outcome for the kids...
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:29 PM #8
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Default Re: do children need praise or affection?

Quote:
Originally Posted by twylah View Post
We do live together. I talked to him about my concerns and he said he would try to do things differently but that it was hard when they are not his kids. Since then he is quieter about his criticisms--not yelling--and maybe he is criticizing a bit less but there is still no warmth and he still ignores her most of the time. Yeah, I have talked to some others who feel the way you do about it. It is kind of a deal breaker if it doesn't change. Just not sure how long I should give it to see if his "trying" results in a good outcome for the kids...
Twylah,

This is not "kind of a deal breaker" it's an absolute deal breaker, and it will continue to happen as long you allow for it.

Ask yourself some very hard questions, and answer them honestly, without feeling bad about what's already been done; you can't change the past but you always have an influence what comes next!


Questions:
1. Is this man's love (for you) worth the damage that you know his behaviors and attitudes are inflicting on your children?
2. Is allowing this continue to your children worth the very slight possibility that this man may change his ways sometime down the road?
3. If this man was doing the same things to you that he does to your children would you still want to be in a relationship with him; do you think that would be a good thing for you and your kids?
4. What's more important; your happiness in a relationship or your children's healthy development and having their emotional needs met by an understanding mother who seems to know the score?

last question...

5. Is this the way you envisioned your children would grow up and be raised by you*?
*Because if you allow for this continue than your are including his methods in the raising of your children, thus you are equally as accountable for any affect it may have in the long term...

You are truly two steps ahead of the game here; you know what your children need and you are aware that this man's actions and attitudes are harmful to your children. Many mothers who have such partners don't know these things and the children are very badly damaged in the process...

What you need to realize is that whether he is their biological father or wants to be a 'step parent' or not; having this man in a live in situation where he is the male figure of household places him in a parental roll within your children's perspectives, and in turn your children will be looking to him for acceptance, approval, love and support because you brought him into the house as your partner.


You need to leave that man and focus on your children until you find someone who shares similar values in life and in child focused parenting; someone who can add something to the lives of you and your kids, not cause further damage and hardship.

My 2c
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:55 PM #9
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Default Re: do children need praise or affection?

Oh my, I'm sorry that this is happening to you and I'm afraid I totally agree with the posters who are asking you the tough questions about this relationship. You need to do what is best for your children and I'm certain you are able to decide what that will be. I hope you have family support if you decide to divorce. At the very least, you need to see a change in his behavior immediately or I would ask to separate and get some outside professional help. Good luck!
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:12 PM #10
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Default Re: do children need praise or affection?

Quote:
Originally Posted by twylah View Post
Thank you for the replies. I will check out the psych central links in the above posts. It's very challenging parenting with someone new. He has raised his kids thus far with his philosophy on parenting and his kids are amazingly compliant and easy to get along with so it's a really hard sell convincing him he is doing anything "wrong". I attribute much of his success to his just having low key, easy going kids by nature but his parenting style surely plays a role. I, on the other hand, have kids that are much higher strung--tons of energy, one with ADHD and ODD. They are much more curious, hands on, need a lot of coaching and redirection--they both hit the ground running and haven't looked back, as it were. Naturally, the easy assumption for him to make is that it's my parenting that is resulting in, shall we say, more challenging kids. Whereas I feel most of it is in their natures. Now combine the two parenting styles and whamo--problems. He wants to keep my kids at arms length and parent them like he has parented his kids and is surprised/disappointed that he is not getting the results he has gotten with his kids. This seems to have led him to conclude I have defective kids or am not doing an optimal job parenting. The biggest problem in this situation has arisen because he basically ignores or just tolerates my six year old daughter until she pisses him off enough that he unleashes a barrage of loud, angry sometimes hostile criticism and demands. There is no balance. There is no affection, encouragement or usually even much acknowledgment of her existence unless she is doing something wrong. Obviously I am not OK with this but how do you convince someone who has had such good luck with his wonderful children that all of our kids would likely benefit from a more balanced approach? How do I convince him that my little girl is normal and needs love, support and encouragement as a foil to the discipline? He isn't inclined to take my word for it since he has had easier outcomes with his kids.
(opinion)
He needs to step back from being a "parent" to your children. He can be a caring/concerned adult who is involved in their lives, but I think you should be the one to determine/provide the parental model. He may have to say "Go to your mom on that"----It is NOT ok for him to unleash criticism. He needs to stop, be a grown up, and discuss his feeling with you, not dumping on the kids.
If he can't, I would encourage separate households while the kids are young.
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