Why must some adults talk to children as if they always want to manipulate them? Why can’t all adults just talk to children like the people they are?

There’s nothing worst than an overly obnoxious adult using sing song super praise at a volume that could be heard over a freight train. Okay, it is worst when they also continually refer to themselves in the third person while doing it. I’m sure many of these people are well intentioned but don’t seem to get that you don’t have to coerce and manipulate children into doing whatever it is you’re asking.

“Oh boy! What a GOOD job! You’re standing still. SUPER!”

Yay! Standing still. For real?


Isn’t this how we talk to our dogs?

“Uh oh, who’s not standing where they’re suppose to? Uh oh. Oh no. Who’s not standing where they’re supposed to? Who’s not being good? So many are being super but not everyone. Who’s not being SUPER right now?”

Geez. Why not just directly tell the child in the “wrong” place where they should be?

Maybe I should follow Brad’s lead (from a different story) and retort “GOOD praising!”

These are often the same people that talk about a child when they are standing right in front of them. Children deserve respect and dignity like the rest of us.

The thing that really gets me though is that the efforts to manipulate children’s behaviour with praise are not only ineffectual but gives the exact opposite results!

An oldie but a goodie: Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!”

This kind of communication with children doesn’t set my teeth on edge in small doses. It’s when it’s more in my face and all I can hear or when it’s directed at my child that makes my head hurt. It’s so needless and counterproductive!

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7 Responses to Kids are people too.

  1. peggy says:

    Ha! I love the “GOOD praising!” That cracked me up.

    I actually remember being really young (and even not so young) and adults talking to me like that. I remember it freaked me right out.

  2. Katherine says:

    I actually heard a grown woman speaking to a senior citizen this way. Oh, it was horrible. I wish I’d thought to say, “Hey, good patronising!”

  3. Annie says:

    That cracked me up too, Peggy! Ha. I notice young friends of mine that still get talked to this way. I feel like I need to remind them that they are adults and shouldn’t be talked to this way- but then no one should be!

    “Patronising” would have definitely been more appropriate than “praising” in the retort. To children, seniors or anyone it’s awful. Your comment Katherine, reminded me of my next door neighbour talking to his “tenant” (a homeless alcoholic man living in his unheated crawl space. :( ) like this. Using “praise” is more often than not used as a method of control.

  4. hen says:

    I was having exactly this discussion the other day with my mum. Again, my opinions don’t count as I don’t have children! tsk. :o)

    Even in the belly they’re people and should be treated with the same respect as adults appear to dole on themselves.

    Sadly, my niece now needs praise to validate her behaviour. She’s just four and has been thrown into school. A place that she cries hysterically about going to. It makes me ache. The teachers seem to think that plying the children with this sort of praise manipulates them in a positive way. Sure it works, but at what cost?

    My niece doesn’t know when she is doing something good or bad for herself now. When she explores the world in her way she is told she is bad, when she explores the world in their way it doesn’t work for her and she is told she is bad. She’s started just to do stuff to fit in. It’s so sad. Her spark is dimming adn it’s all I can do to try to keep it going. To her parents and grandparents it’s all part of growing up. Rubbish! She’s only four!

    My mum and I were talking about how I am going to care for my childern when I have them. She can’t understand anything that I say. Instead she smiles knowingly, thinking ‘just you wait, you’ll be buying a pram before you know it and sticking them in school for some peace’.

    I hope I can prove her wrong.

  5. Penelope says:

    I a huge fan of Alfie Kohn, Annie. I love his books and I’ve learned so much from his insight.

    Your post made me shudder – that whole patronizing thing gets me steamed every time. I agree with you entirely!

  6. Hey Annie,
    I was given that good job article when my first son was younger than one. I am grateful, as it really resonated deeply with me.

    Also, here is a short post that I thought addressed the issue well, too (not by me): http://simplemom.net/kids-are-people-too-loving-heart-mindful-speech/


    P.S. I can’t find a way to email you in reply to your comment on my blog, but I wanted to say “NO, there can never be too many comments!!” :)

  7. Annie says:

    Oh Hen, that’s so sad! I have no doubt you will. That will be an exciting day- when you become a mom. :D

    Alfie Kohn’s writings are inspirational. I think that article may have been the first of his I came across as well! I went on the read his books on schooling, even though I didn’t intend to send my kids, because it offered so much in the way of how *not* to motivate children.

    Stacy, that post is a good one!

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