How Praising My Daughter’s Effort Improved My Work As An Artist

I consider my parenting style to be experimental.
(Don’t worry. This post is not about parenting.)

I do not stick with the way I was raised. I don’t judge my parenting based on what other mothers are doing, or even what the world is doing. Sometimes the pack is wrong. If something doesn’t work in my house I will research and experiment. I try new things until something does work.

This video reminded me of an issue I was having and I’d like to share it with you.

We were having a problem with my daughter and homework. Homework would invoke crying, yelling, temper tantrums. So I started looking for solutions to having a child that didn’t want to do her homework. I found an article, and I honestly can’t remember where or I’d link it up.

Like Carol Dweck describes in the video, I was making the error of telling my daughter, “You’re so smart” when I should have been saying, “You’re doing great work.” I realized that with “you’re so smart” I was disregarding all of the work that goes into homework. When I started praising her effort instead of her natural abilities homework started going a lot smoother. She was more eager to try new ways of thinking, to really put effort into figuring out problems, and she stopped minding the “work” so much. My daughter responded better to things like, “you did a really good job powering through that problem,” or “awesome job sticking with that word until you sounded it out!” Instead of being frustrated with homework she now sees it as an opportunity to learn.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with me and my art, right? Well, when I was a child I was praised for being smart. I wasn’t praised for hard work. I always just floated by on my natural abilities. I never studied. I just made good grades. That’s pretty much how I lived my entire life. It wasn’t until I started praising my daughter for her effort that I realized that I could make more of an effort, too. When I started really noting her accomplishments through work I realized that I could apply the same lessons to myself and my work. You can’t float through life on natural abilities alone. (Okay. Well, some people can. And I probably could, but why would I want to when there is such an opportunity for growth!?)

When I really started to take effort seriously I realized that I wasn’t doing everything I could. I started searching for ways to improve myself as an artist. I decided to stop resting on talent alone. I am not doing the best I can. There is always room for growth.

So, if you’re wondering why I haven’t posted anything in a while, I haven’t spent a lot of time painting. I have spent a lot of time evaluating. I have spent a lot of time assessing my work and figuring out how to make it better, stronger. (I started this journey alone, but I was a floundering fish before I took Creating Your Space, a class by Glenn Merchant at Moxie Art Supply.) With all of this focus on effort came a clearer vision, a honed style, and a sense of relief. The relief comes from knowing that it’s up to me, it’s in my hands to put in the effort to get where I want to be. All it takes is a bit of work.

If you follow my instagram or facebook you’ve seen the pictures of my reorganized studio, my portable studio tote, my sticky notes on paintings, and my overall effort to improve as an artist. But it’s not just my art that warrants more effort. I am still trying to learn French and I would also love to learn how to play the guitar. Both of those things are going to take more effort on my part.

I think it’s cool that sometimes when we’re teaching our children we’re learning something ourselves. Now I have my own homework to get back to!

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One thought on “How Praising My Daughter’s Effort Improved My Work As An Artist

  1. Pingback: Some New Pop Art Paintings | Liz Kelly Zook

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