Praise and Encouragement | INFJ Forum

Praise and Encouragement

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by Satya, Dec 3, 2009.

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  1. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    It is an accepted psychological fact that human beings, as social animals, have an inherent need for love and belonging. In mental health, this translates to three things, attention, appreciation, and affirmation. People give attention simply by acknowledging and listening to one another. They give appreciation by expressing their gratitude or admiration to one another. And they give affirmation by validating the behaviors, traits, attitudes, etc. that they believe should be continued.

    Despite these being the most basic skills necessary for having healthy, stable, and beneficial relationships, people within dominant American culture are simply not taught them. Study after study demonstrates that children who are raised with praise and encouragement and who are themselves taught to praise and encourage others tend to be the happiest, most popular, and emotionally stable among their peer group. And yet parents within dominant American culture tend to favor criticizing children, fostering competitiveness rather than cooperation, and instilling a sense in their children that they first and foremost need to look out for themselves. The result is people who have a tendency to care more about themselves and their own self image and views than their relationships with friends, family, and significant others.

    In studying first impressions, psychologists found that a simple compliment or encouragement made in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone left the best and most lasting impression of a person. How many times when you are meeting someone for the first time do you think to compliment or encourage them? Can you even think of compliments or encouragement that you would feel comfortable giving a stranger? Or when you meet someone for the first time, are you more absorbed in thinking to yourself how you are coming across or what smart and funny things that you could say rather than providing some simple praise and listening to what the other individual really has to say?

    Perhaps you disagree. Do you think dominant American culture teaches these basic skills? Do you think that parents really consider their children's social skills? How often in your day to day life are you really paying attention to people? How often do you really show people that you appreciate them? How often do you try to affirm the things you admire about people rather than criticize the things that you don't?
     
    #1 Satya, Dec 3, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
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  2. Billy

    Billy Contents Under Pressure
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    I think criticism is good and praise is good, as are rewards and punishments. No one would deny that say Japanese, Korean and Chinese parents are far more critical of their children because of their cultures then Americans are and their children do much better in school as a result.

    On a personal level, the kids I know who have been given nothing but praise thier entire lives and spoiled rotten tend to turn out to be the most emotionally unstable, miserable people around when they cant get what they want, whereas people who learned that they werent the bees knees from strict parents tend to be the most stable people.
     
  3. sookie

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    This is interesting that you bring this up. I recently had a discussion about this with some classmates (what a surprise). I actually had the same response that you did (shocker).

    There is intense pressure for conformity. They live under tremendous pressure. There is a high suicide rate because of this.
     
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  4. Eniko

    Eniko May snark if provoked
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    It's not just american culture. It's pretty much the same here in the Netherlands. I think modern society in general places too much value in "you need to be a strong solitary individual who can get by without all this fluff". Even though nobody can really get by in any decent way without attention, affirmation and praise.

    It just doesn't work that way, and it never will. And like I was telling someone yesterday, "because I can get by without it" is a bad reason to withhold basic emotional and psychological nourishment. I don't know why it's considered so bad to encourage someone in our society, seems pretty foolish to me.

    EDIT: And incidentally giving people these things doesn't mean withholding grievances. But it seems far more acceptable to tell someone all the things they're doing wrong than telling them anything they're doing right. There needs to be a balance.
     
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    #4 Eniko, Dec 3, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  5. Billy

    Billy Contents Under Pressure
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    I admit I don't know the facts on that, please show me the difference in suicide rates for kids in the US and Asia. And attribute it to factors such as negative criticism and not say poverty.
     
  6. sookie

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    The praise needs to be for the action. I think that American children (some not all) may have a sense of entitlement. This is due to the fact that they are told they are GOOD. It is not the action that is good. They are good. This is an important distinction. IF they are GOOD then others are BAD. It is the action that should be praised. "I like that you pushed your chair in" is very different from. "You are so good! You pushed your chair in! You are a good girl/boy."

    This may seem like splitting hairs but there is a big difference.
     
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  7. Eniko

    Eniko May snark if provoked
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    Not suicide related, but you might want to brush up on the concept of hikikomori too.
     
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  8. Billy

    Billy Contents Under Pressure
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    Yeah I totally think its splitting hairs and isn't much of a difference.
     
  9. OP
    Satya

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    From a psychological standpoint, there is relatively no benefit to criticizing somebody. If your purpose is to teach somebody something or to get them to change a problematic behavior, then criticism is almost certain to fail as it tends to invoke the ego and cause a person to become defensive.

    Also from a psychological standpoint, rewards are far more effective for generating learning than punishments. This is the result of people tending to learn behaviors that help them avoid punishment, or in other words, getting better at not getting caught at what they shouldn't be doing, than actually changing their behavior.

    True. Youth suicide rates among Asian countries are the highest in the world. Japan actually has consistently had the highest.

    In psychology we call this attitude the "spare the rod" mentality of American culture. From the studies, it is actually not true. Children who are praised and encouraged are not more likely to end up exhibiting problematic behavior. To the contrary, they are more likely to develop healthy support systems that promote pro social behavior, particularly when they are taught by parents who are involved and promote choice. Children from authoritarian homes have been found to consistently demonstrate the highest amount of problematic behaviors to the degree that it is a predictor for criminal pathology. (Note: children from completely uninvolved parents demonstrate the most problematic behaviors, but that falls under terms of neglect rather than parenting style)
     
    #9 Satya, Dec 3, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2009
  10. TinyBubbles

    TinyBubbles anarchist

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    I think there's got to be balance. If you praise and compliment children no matter what they've done, they won't know how to gauge good actions from bad and will end up directionless and unstable. On the flip side, if you're overly critical, then they'll be very judgmental of themselves and won't know when to give themselves a break. Either extreme is pretty unhealthy. Giving kids love and attention when they've at least tried their best, and reasonable punishment when they've not, will probably result in the best outcome.
     
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  11. Billy

    Billy Contents Under Pressure
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    I think this isn't just a Japanese thing, a lot of people withdraw socially, they're called introverts.
     
  12. sookie

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    Sorry Eniko, I also stand corrected
     
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  13. Billy

    Billy Contents Under Pressure
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    There is great benefit to criticizing people who do something wrong, it shows them that they are... ding ding ding. Wrong. Im not talking about beating children, I am talking about responsible parents telling thier kids when they are wrong. I once stole a candy bar from a store as a kid, my mother saw it, told me how dissapointed she was in me, yelled at me and made me feel horrid then forced me to walk back into the store and give it to the clerk and apologize. I have never stolen again.

    How would she have handled that with positivity? Ohhhh Billy I am SO GLAD you stole, now I have the chance to bond with you and teach you right from ummm well I cant say wrong it would be criticizing you... You are an individual and I hope that you will make the right choice, I will reward you when you do! Yeah I totally would have ate the candy bar in front of her.

    Care to prove this and then please also prove that its because of negative criticism.

    Yeah in theory, in reality they become so full of themselves and so ridiculously short sighted to everyone else that they end up burning all thier birdges away in life and sit around going "why doesn't anyone loooooooove meeeee" But why speculate, please post your proof for this stuff.
     
  14. TheLastMohican

    TheLastMohican Captain Obvious
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    I compliment sparingly. That may be bad, but I think the fact that it makes each compliment more valuable in comparison counts for something. I'm not sure how much that has to do with the culture, or how I was brought up or what I was taught.
    To summarize, I've learned that I should feel good about success, and that I'll get some help feeling bad about failure. That might have just happened to complement my personality, or my personality could have been partially formed by it — that's hard to tell. But from my point of view, positive reinforcement is overdone in American culture, especially in the school system. More accurately, attempted backlashes against competitiveness have been repeatedly bumbled, resulting in such absurdities as tournaments in which "everybody wins." If people want to emphasize cooperation over competition (a noble enough goal, though I do not see the twain as mutually exclusive), then they need to modify a lot more than what they call the results; the whole circuit of competitions needs to be changed from the ground up. They should either be replaced or restructured. Going through the standard process only to disregard the results so that the bell curve is squashed will only leave everybody dissatisfied and nothing accomplished.



    These are both good examples. East Asian children are subjected to far more academic pressure, and a lot of success results. A lot more suicides result, too (especially around the time of the infamous exams), but I'm hesitant to condemn the practices based on that.
    From within my extended family, I know of a number of examples of spoiled rotten kids who were not disciplined or criticized. They also tended to have distant, uninterested parents, though, and the spoiling was done out of convenience.
     
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  15. Billy

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    This.

    There is a place for both positive and negative reinforcement with children. Discounting 1 or the other is silly.
     
  16. NeverAmI

    NeverAmI Satisclassifaction
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  17. Billy

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  18. OP
    Satya

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    I'm not sure you understand the concept of affirmation. If a child stole a candy bar, criticizing the child in such a manner can actually be positively reinforcing because it gives the child attention. A considerably better response would probably be to take the candy bar away from the child and return it without giving the child any attention whatsoever. Not speaking to or acknowledging the child, and effectively cutting off attention to that child for a duration, instills a far stronger message than criticizing the child would. Children crave attention, and to deny it serves as a punishment that is not really a punishment, but rather a neutral action by the parent which has stronger implications for the child than an actual punishment would have.


    Um...sure.

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/w9443687861t2k70/
    http://www.jstor.org/pss/1131415

    You are entitled to your opinion. I've seen no evidence to actually indicate that this is the truth, and nothing I've learned from developmental psychology supports this opinion.
     
  19. Barnabas

    Barnabas Time Lord

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    this is to point out a classic case of swinging the pendulum, if swung to one side or the other then you get a child that is deficient either spoiled for lack of a better word or either depressed or agressive.

    you have to find your middle ground.
     
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  20. OP
    Satya

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    I'm left unconvinced. I'm not speaking about permissiveness here. I'm speaking about providing children with praise and encouragement. Why are the two seen as one in the same? Children need discipline, but I find it ironic that giving praise and encouragement is seen as being a step away from discipline. If anything, regularly praising and encouraging children makes it considerably easier to discipline them when necessary.
     

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