One of the first topics of my parents’ workshops was the praise and consequences in the process of education. I do not remember how it sounded exactly, but in general it was about working together with the participants to develop a model of constructive praise and agree whether the consequences of read penalties really make any sense. Despite the fact that some time has passed since the meeting, I often remember this discussion, which turned out to be a valuable experience on my professional path. I asked the parents to think in groups and then share ideas on the forum. The example of the exercise was not my own then but met at university. He sounded more or less like this: „You leave your home and ask your child to vacuum the carpet. After returning, you enter the room and you see that only the center of the rug is dusted, and the edges remain dirty. What information do you give your child? „Today I use this exercise very often at teacher workshops. Returning to my meeting with my parents – everyone started to exchange their opinions in groups, and then I asked volunteers to share what they had worked out with the other participants. One of the people said, „I do not think I will brag – if it did not do my job.” Some of them joined in with their friend’s comments, or rather a lot of similar reflections. „Did the child completely fail to meet the request?” I asked. „The carpet remained dirty,” one of the mothers replied. „It is not cleaned up,” another echoed. „What about the center of the rug?” I asked. „Well, do not you tell me that malice should be praised?” Replied one of the parents. „And where did the belief that this behavior was malicious?” I did not let go. „Can you say that the carpet has not been vacuumed completely?” There was silence. „But the child did not do my job!” My mother insisted. „Completely?” – I asked again. „So I have to praise, even when the child does not do what I say, and then grow up to be so self-confident, uncritical, with attitude, what is it not me?” She became irritated.
The topic of praise turned out to be harder for all of us than we thought. The situation with the carpet generated more examples of criticism and drawing consequences towards the child than noticing that the measure was cleaned up. Of course, you can not ignore the fact that the edges of the rug are dirty and the child did not comply with the order in 50%, but half completed it flawlessly. Of course, the example is exaggerated but how many times it happens that we include our attention when there is a deficit, behavior incompatible with the rules, request, recommendation, expectation. How often our attention is lacking in what is good, useful, constructive. I encourage you to ask yourself when the carpet dilemma is asking yourself which behaviors, habits or statements of my child or student are to be repeated and just strengthen them with the usual attention, „I see that you have cleaned the middle of the rug.” noticing and naming certain activities can be a natural reinforcement. Should I refer to the skipped edges? I think so. After a while, I would add, „The shores remain unburdened. Next time clean the whole carpet. „Notice that I wrote” after a moment „and without any” but „and” but „. Of course, the child’s behavior in this case does not have to be liked. I only encourage you to put emotions aside, do not interpret this behavior as „against me, my opinion and need”, and deal with what is really important in such a situation. If we find out what the facts are without unnecessary interpretation and give them meaning, eg „You have done the task very correctly to this place” or „I can see that you calmly analyze the content of the task you are about to do”, we show the child that we notice his efforts, work , resources, while providing feedback that what he does is good.
I urge you with all my heart to practice praise, to practice calling what is constructive, to give attention where it is worth. I dream about having more space in schools to talk to parents about what the child is capable of, what talent and potential are developing in it, what is worth strengthening. To change the question „what else can not do?” On „what can he do?” Education does not end in one year. You can do a lot without being perfect or want to be perfectly persistently holding on to the belief that I still do not know everything. Indication of work areas is very important. It should only be remembered that we will not build a house saying that there are no bricks. However, when we collect them, we can certainly put a solid foundation.