Parent Discussion Group

Revised from Parenting Class Leaders Bonnie Smith and Judy Dixon – From the Book Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen, Ed.D.


The inverse power of praise – is a neurobiological fact.

  • By calling your child smart it does not prevent underperforming – it may actually be causing it. Columbia University
  • An extrinsic reward system releases neurotransmitters, which can inhibit creativity, problem-solving and recall.
  • Praise, rewards, gold stickers and A’s often impair intrinsic motivation.
Webster’s Definition:(1) to express a favorable judgment of
(2) to glorify, especially by attribution of perfection
(3) an expression of approval
(1) to inspire with courage
(2) to spur on, stimulate
Addresses:The doer:
"You’re such a good girl."
"Good boy."
The deed:
"I appreciate your cooperation."
"Good effort. (expand, be specific)"
RecognizesOnly the complete, perfect product:
"You did it right."
Effort (a controllable variable)
"It looks like you worked hard."
"You did it right."
Goal oriented
Understanding, empathy:
What do you think, feel, or learn?”
Process oriented
AttitudePatronize, manipulate:
"I like the way that Susie is sitting."
"You should be sitting quietly"
Appreciative, respectful:
"Who can show me how to sit to show that you are ready?"
“I” MessageJudgmental:
"I like the way you did that."
"You should be sitting quietly."
Self-disclosing "I" messages:
"I appreciate your help."
InvitesPerson to change for others.Person to change for self.
Locus of ControlExternal, dependent, praise junkie:
“What do you think?”
“All A’s, I’m giving you a reward.”
Internal, self-evaluator:
"What do I think?"
"That reflects your hard work."
TeachesWhat to think.How to think.
Effect on Self-EsteemFeel worthwhile:
Only when others approve.
Feel worthwhile:
From within
Long Range Effect Needs approval, “watch me” insecure, less task persistence, less willing to take risks, less initiative or willingness to share ideas, more tentative in responses, defeatism, deadened enthusiasm, boast and brag to get attention, overinflated sense of abilities, aloofness, cynicism and selfishnessSelf-confidence, self-reliance.
able to enter neurological flow.
OwnershipRobs person of ownership and pleasure of own achievement:
"I am so proud of you."
"You did it just like I told you."
Recognizes ownership and responsibility for achievement:
"You must be proud of yourself."
"You figured it out for yourself."


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