Saturday, July 16, 2005

Competition 2: Return of "Carlotta"

Thanks for all your comments on the first post on sibling competition. They were excellent points, all.

I guess the issue here is not so much competition (which I believe to be healthy and productive), but praise. Is there a way to praise success by one child in an endeavor in which another child has not had similar success?

I don't know, and I don't know how. But I agree that getting rid of competition in order to prevent such sticky situations is insane. It simply can't be done. Next we'll be "outlawing" war.

I still stand by my assertion that winning and losing is not something that parents can teach as well as older siblings.

Another, similar event happened today. We were at the lake and the big boys were learning to kneeboard. One child went first and, unable to get it after two attempts, decided to get out of the water and sulk in the boat. Rather than wait for him to come around and try again, the other boy wanted to try.

This one fared no better at first, and failed 4 times before finally getting up on the board. Then he did wonderfully, riding for 10 minutes in one stretch and successfully handling increasingly difficult conditions like wakes and tight turns. Note: it wasn't the one you'd think.

During the whole time the second rider was up, the first rider became increasingly sullen. As we hooted and hollered for the one actually riding, it became apparent that the first boy was not going to get back in and try. And he did not try that event again for the entire day.

I think I've decided to praise both for effort and for accomplishment. If that means that kids who succeed get praised doubly, then so be it. I think praising only for accomplishment is cruel and that praising only for effort is foolhardy.

This parenting thing is hard, in case you haven't guessed.


At 1:05 PM, Blogger Becki said...

OK, now I get it! To praise or not to praise - that is the question. How can you praise someone for something they did not accomplish. In the case of both trying and one doing better, you can certainly praise them both for their effort, because they both tried. As for one who chooses to sit and pout as another one is excelling at his efforts, you cannot reward that behavior. I never had that happen with either of you two. But then again, one of you wasn't a boy and the other one wasn't a girl. I think the pouting would have annoyed me as much as anything else. I think I would have been tempted to say, "Look, if you don't want to play, you don't have to, but you're not going to sit here and ruin everyone's day with your pouting. Your brother's having a fine time and I'm not going to take that away from him." Attitude is 90%. Mom.

At 2:02 PM, Blogger 4BoyDad said...

Of course we don't praise for pouting or encourage it in any way.

The question is, is there a way to praise for accomplishment when both have tried but only one has succeeded? More specifically, is there a way to praise that won't hurt the feelings of the one who didn't succeed?

I think not. Their feelings are going to get hurt.

But the only alternative is to not praise accomplshement, which is silly and ignorant of reality.

Thankfully, God seems to have made children of sterner stuff than we adults give them credit for.


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