Good girl!

Good boy!!!!

I heard a woman telling a boy. No need to say, I cringed. The expressions “good girl!” “good boy!” or the “good job!” “great job!” statements  directed to a child sometimes make me feel sick.

I tell you why: because for me “good boy” or “good job” are just plain attempts to show a positive attitude, some sort of positive input to encourage the receiver of this so-called compliment to carry on doing good.

In my view, when someone says to a girl “good girl”  because she did  something right is just an over used compliment. How about if instead of saying “good girl” we actually acknowledge what was done right in order to be judged “good”? How about if we say “Your drawing looks amazing! I like the way you used the yellow!” or “I’m so happy you helped to tidy up that corner of the room! Thanks to you it looks very nice”.

Instead of saying “good boy” or “great job” how about saying “Wow! Your homework looks great and I can tell you have put effort into it! I am looking forward to have a look at it”. Or how about saying “What you just did looks amazing!”.

I feel swapping the simple two-word expression for something a bit more elaborate, where it is mentioned what was done, compliment on a detail, it may make the receiver of this compliment feel more appreciated and cared for; it may make the giver focus 5 minutes of attention (even 2 minutes or perhaps 3!)  on the result and be present, truly present in body and mind to give appreciation and acknowledgement instead of a bland “judgement” with a “great job” or “good boy”.

Believe me, the receiver will feel it – particularly if we are talking about children – and they will feel appreciated, not judged.

And this is a key word. Appreciation. When you give a child a compliment such as “ I like the way you coloured the flower” instead of “great job” “looks good!” you are showing the child you put enough attention to her work to notice the different colours; this showing of appreciation can open the gates for the child to start to tell you a story about a flower; or her interpretation of the colours; or may prompt said child to go and paint many more flowers.

And many more flowers will imply the child exploring how to mix colours, how to use the brush how to apply pressure on the paper, how to hold the brush and what happens when you mix all the colours. This is pure learning!

Or it may mean for that child that someone does look at her drawings and make her feel cared for. Which is equally important if not more than the physical and intellectual  side of things.

When you ask a boy to tidy up and he does so and you acknowledge it with “I am grateful to you because you tidy up that corner and now it looks so much better” you are acknowledging  the boy, the person, and the effort  put into the task; you are showing you did put attention to what he has done, you did observed and you are appreciating him. It sounds so much richer and fuller than the bland “good boy” “great job” or “finally you did it”.

Shall I mention that chances are this boy will continue to tidy up to the best of his ability and it will do it perhaps even without being asked? Shall I start to list the amount of learning that goes into the tidy up? From spatial awareness to fine motor skills, you name it. Add to that he will feel appreciated, so a fabulous emotion is being nourished.

I feel we should start a revolution, erasing the bland two-word praise and replace it with a bit of presence and heart.

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Fundamentally human.

Sorting papers out, I found this little quote.

Despite what you may believe, you can disappoint people and still, be good enough.

You can make mistakes, and still, be capable and talented.

You can let people down and still, be worthwhile and deserving of love.

Everyone has disappointed someone they care about.

Everyone messes up, lets people down, and makes mistakes.

Not because we are inadequate or fundamentally inept, but because we are imperfect and fundamentally human.

Expecting anything different is setting yourself up to failure.”

Daniell Koepke

I think we should remember this every single day. As we may try to be the best versions of ourselves, day in , day out, we still are as the quote says, fundamentally human and we are, at the end of the day  prone to mess up, to disappoint, to make mistakes.

This should be taught to children, so they can embrace their humanity wholeheartedly, they can be perfectly imperfect, fundamentally human.

Also – lest we forget – we should teach masterly lessons on how important it is to recognise our imperfections and act upon them. So we can restore, once more the balancing scales until next time.

P.S. Dear Daniell Koepke, thank you for writing this. Whomever you are, wherever you are.

 

 

 

Grabber Revolution

Have you ever got the feeling that if you do not do something it will never get done?

Well, that is how I have been feeling for the last weeks. Let me tell you why.

In front of our house, between our path and the road, there is a stretch of land with bushes and trees (and yes, we already hanged a bird feeder from one tree which faces my son’s bedroom window, so he can see the birds) which in summer is a fresh green natural screen that separate us from the road and in winter is just bare and…yes, wintery.

Because this stretch of land is now bare, I can see everything: twigs, branches, stones, plants, and…. rubbish. Lots of. Bottles. Cans. Wrappings. Pieces of aged polystyrene. Supermarket bags. Lids. Costa Coffee cups. All scattered along this stretch of land which is about 50 metres long. This stretch I must see it every morning when I leave for work, and every afternoon / evening when I come back from work. I have to see it every time I walk along with my son to go to School, or to the park. You get the picture.

I SEE IT ALL THE TIME.And it is annoying. Waking up, move the curtains, look up, look down…and I see litter. Come back from the park…and litter. This stretch of land is trimmed by a quadrille that comes in the autumn to cut the hedge and to trim the trees. But not to clean it.

Hence…. Today was the day when I decided it had to change. Since we are on school holidays and my little one is remarkably better (he has been unwell for almost the entire week) and it is sunny outside (for a change!) I thought it would be a good idea to go out with the grabber, plastic bags, gloves, and woolly hats to pick up the litter. And so, we did.

 

DSC_0077

 

No need to say that contrary to everybody else’s views and opinions, my little one had a blast of a time. What could be more fun than to go with the grabber and pick up a wrapping, a bottle, a lid? Discover bottles and count how many cans we found?

My little one saying aloud “all this plastic is no good for birds’ mummy! We must collect it with the grabber!” and giggling after every finding, saying “yucky!” more times than I can remember and  watching him separating plastic, tin and glass in some kind of order, pattern only known to him with a scientific concentration was priceless.

We stopped for lunch and afterwards we finish what we started. We brought back into our yard 2 bags full of plastic, about 6 cans and 4 bottles (yes, my son counted it all).Full bird feeder

Our reward was to put some seeds for the birds on the bird feeder and a new feeder, but this one hanging from the hedge, as an experiment.

We ended tired, but happy. I hope this activity helps him to recognise how important it is to put the littler where it should go and helps him to understand that he is responsible for looking after this planet of ours…no matter how small the contribution.