Just now, as we tried* to get the girls to sleep, I listened to an interview with the British Psychologist Richard Wiseman on the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast (Episode 204 circa 54:50). Wiseman is promoting a new book, The 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot about scientifically sound ways to improve your life. It's like a self-help book only with the key difference that it contains claims that are based on proper research and which actually work, rather than some load of woo pulled out of someone's arse. When asked for an example of the kind of thing that's in the book, he mentioned the idea that you shouldn't praise achievement but effort.
Rather than saying, "Well done, you kept your pants dry all day!" we should be saying, "Well done for trying so hard to keep your pants dry today!" The rationale is that if you praise achievement, the next time they will be scared to put themselves in a position where they fail to win the praise, whereas if you praise the effort, they can always try regardless of actual achievement. Essentially, effort is a variable that is within the child's grasp to control, achievement is not. Not only is this the case, but children brought up to believe that it is achievement that is important actually learn to discount effort; "If I can't achieve it by my natural talents, it reflects poorly on me." Clearly this is a very poor message to communicate to a child!
I'm not pretending this is Earth-shattering stuff - in fact, it seems bloody obvious once it's explained - and nor is Wiseman. What he is saying is that it may be easy but it's actually not very well known. It was pure coincidence that it just so happened that I ended up listening to this podcast on the same day Olivia started wearing big girl pants, but it did make me make a mental note to check exactly what I say to her.
In other news, Grace has two teeth, lower central incisors, with her eye teeth and one upper incisor clearly budding in her gum. Oh, and the kitchen is starting to look much better, though it's difficult to imagine how it can all come together in just three more days...
* and largely failed. K___'s still up there at nearly 9o'clock at night. How do the little sods know when you're trying to get them down early? Oh well; they're normally pretty good these days.