Thank you to parents who completed our questionnaire on Panyaden’s Budding Day celebrations on 17 and 18 September. We are happy to report that 96% of Prathom parents and 96% of Anuban parents scored the efforts shown by the students as either ‘excellent’ or ‘more than satisfactory’. 65% of Anuban and Prathom parents agreed that the overall event was ‘excellent’ while 32% said it was ‘more than satisfactory’.
We thank you for your observations and will continue to improve on this end-of-term activity. Here are some of your comments:
• “Great job, teachers! I want to go to school here too!”
• “A great day. Timing is better than last year.”
• “Excellent teacher involvement. Good to meet other parents.”
• “The kids are very happy! The school is a very positive environment.”
• “Fun & informative! The kids seemed very proud of their accomplishments and of the sense of responsibility that had been entrusted to them.”
• “Everything was excellent!”
• “Overall, Budding Day is impressive and I like it because it keeps me informed of what students learn in the classroom.”
• “Some parents with more than one child in different grades were unable to join in all the activities since classes ran activities at the same time.”
(Please click on each slide for larger view.)
How to praise your child
by Jiranat Sripeth (Kru Dokmai), Head Teacher, and Neil Amas, School Director
We know how important a parent’s praise is to a child. But what’s the best way to give it? When your child does something well, you might tell her that she’s really clever, or smart. You might tell him that he’s a very special boy. Or you might say that she must have worked really hard.
On the surface, they all sound like similar compliments. But new research1 by Ohio State University is adding to a growing body of studies that suggest that first two increase the child’s chances of becoming what psychology professor Brad Bushman describes as a ‘narcissist’. Only the last one raises the child’s self-esteem and keeps his ego in check. The difference between ‘narcissism’ and ‘self-esteem’ in this case has to do with how you compare yourself with other people. Narcissists tend to think of themselves as better than others, while self-esteem means a person sees himself as having equal worth as others.
The research, which surveyed the way 565 sets of parents expressed appreciation of their children’s accomplishments over a period of a year and a half, found that narcissism in children is cultivated by parents who believe their child to be more special and more entitled than others, while self-esteem is cultivated by parental warmth: affection and appreciation.
Researcher and author of ‘The Narcissism Epidemic’2, Jean Twenge describes narcissists as people who overestimate their abilities, take too many risks, ‘mess up their relationships’, and who tend towards aggressive behaviour. Bushman adds that narcissists are less likely to feel empathy toward others.
“Empathy involves putting yourselves in other people’s shoes, but narcissists have a very difficult time putting themselves in other people’s shoes,” Narcissists respond poorly when they don’t get special treatment, says Bushman. “Whenever people have this sense of superiority, then they lash out at others in an aggressive way.”
Children with a good level of self-esteem, on the other hand, tend to have lower levels of anxiety and depression over time. Bushman continues, “It’s a lot better to say ‘You worked really hard’ than ‘You must be really smart’, because if you tell the kid that they’re smart and then if they fail, they think ‘Oh I’m stupid.’ ” If the praise relates to effort, a child who fails will work harder next time.
The findings are echoed in another recent article3 by Salman Khan, ‘Why I’ll never tell my son he’s smart’. Khan asserts that acknowledging effort is more likely to produce what researcher Carol Dweck describes as a ‘growth mindset’4 – a pliable mind that is open, ready to learn and expandable – while telling a child he is smart will lead to a ‘fixed mindset’ (a mind that puts limits on itself and struggles to deal with failure). Author and educationalist Alfie Kohn further argues that telling a child she is ‘good’ or ‘smart’ is more often than not an expression of parental desire to control her child and encourages either dependence or defiance.5
It is challenging to adjust the way we praise our child, especially if we ourselves have been brought up with a different approach. At Panyaden, we avoid words like ‘smart’ or ‘good’ and instead focus on acknowledging effort, such as ‘I see you’ve worked hard on your assignment,’ as opposed to ‘What a great assignment, you’re so clever.’ When we describe achievement, the child is encouraged to see for herself the results of her effort. When we judge achievement (and the child himself), we encourage the child to work for his teacher’s approval and, at worst, to build up a fixed picture of himself. Just as labelling a child as ‘stupid’ sets him up for low confidence in life, telling him he is ‘smart’ pressures him to maintain an inflated self-image, one from which any downgrading (for example by failing a test) is likely to severely knock his confidence or, worse, lead him to cheat or lie to keep up that image of being the best.
Building self-esteem and confidence can be done just by expressing more warmth, by using tone of voice and choosing words wisely. “If you want to look for a substitute for ‘You’re special’, just say ‘I love you’,” says Twenge. “It’s what you mean, and it’s a much better message.”
1Origins of narcissism in children by Eddie Brummelmana, Sander Thomaesb, Stefanie A. Nelemansd, Bram Orobio de Castrob, Geertjan Overbeeka, and Brad J. Bushmane. Edited by Susan T. Fiske, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.
2The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell, Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
3The Learning Myth: Why I’ll Never Tell My Son He’s Smart by Salman Khan, Huffington Post.
4Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Random House.
5Criticizing (Common Criticisms of) Praise By Alfie Kohn, blog
Parents, teachers and students came together for another excellent Friends of Panyaden Flea Market. Great homemade food, hundreds of second toys, books and clothes and a whole lot of fun and smiles! We asked the new Chair of FoP, Khun Sarinporn about her plans for FoP this year.
Q: What are your aims for FOP this year?
A: To build the relationship between parents and the school and facilitate communication and information exchange between both.
Q: What advice would you give to new parents who join Panyaden?
A: Trust that the school will do its best for your child and join FoP so that we can get to know each other! Please come and see us if you need information about the school but are too shy to ask!
Q: We are a multi-cultural school with many different nationalities, languages and cultures. What are the best ways to overcome any barriers that this may present?
A: We are from different cultures and speak different languages but we all have the same aim: to do the best we can for our children. I always think that the best way to understand another is to try and put ourselves in their shoes.
Q: What, in your view, should be the main focus of primary education?
A: There are two important areas of focus. First, especially for Anuban, it is how to develop kids to do things for themselves and take care of themselves. Second, is building the emotional and moral foundation, which is important at Prathom level. The 12 Wise Habits provide excellent values for living and a true path to dealing with difficulties in life. Academically, the emphasis should be on ‘learning to love learning’ rather than filling children with just information and knowledge, which, after all, are easy to find.
Thank you Khun Sarinporn and we look forward to a great year with FoP!