How Kanye West’s Mentor May Have Given Him the Wrong Advice about Praise


Rapper, Kanye West has shown a softer side of himself during an interview with BBC’s Zane Lowe. During the interview West spoke about fusion in culture then veered from the topic to speak about his late fashion mentor, Louise Wilson. While reflecting on his last encounter with the professor, he broke down in tears. It was refreshing to see a more in touch Kanye West, however, the advice given by his mentor was a bit off-putting.

Before giving over to his emotions, the rapper/designer, detailed his conversation with Wilson. He quoted, “She was asking me about my daughter and about my wife.  She said, ‘You know, so many students don’t give it their all. And the problem is, as soon as they do anything halfway good, when they’re two years old, three years old, their parents clap. Kanye, don’t clap.”

So let’s just clarify what his mentor was advising. It seems as if she was attempting to give the new father a warning concerning baby North. If he applauded his child too much it would create an adult that would not give a whole-hearted effort later in life.

Is this true? Well let me give my two cents. As a psych major and former Early Childhood Educator, I can attest that the wrong type of praise can hinder a child. For instance, your child has just drawn half of the letter C and you tell him/her good job and leave it at that.  This type of generalized praise will leave your kid thinking that attempting something is good enough. In the same scenario, you tell your child, “I like the way you practiced all by yourself, now do you see this letter; can you make it more like this? I like the way you keep trying.”

That is the difference between raising a child that will grow up always seeking to perfect their craft and one that will settle for good enough.  However, if West’s mentor thinks that a two-year old should’nt be praised but pushed it may have a reverse effect.  I’m not going to get into the entirety of Erickson’s Life Stage Theory, but I do suggest that everyone at least glance through it.

There are different stages in life development which a child will encounter a crisis. At the age of 2 the crisis is Autonomy vs Shame and at the age of 3 it is Initiative vs Guilt. So the hooked on phonics version of these two critical stages is at the age of two your child won’t master independence if not  encouraged to do things on their own and ridiculed when they fail, they will develop a sense of guilt that will harm them in the next stage. At 3 years old, children seek to do things on their own even more. If a child is criticized or made to feel that what they are doing isn’t enough it will deepen the feeling of guilt.

So, now that I have given a Psych 101 lesson, let’s get back to Kanye Wests’ mentor, Wilson. To imply that at 2 or 3 years old is the time to push your child with little or no praise until they do something perfectly is to create an adult that will rarely accomplish anything because of deep seated guilt.

The moral of the story is, just because you are a great teacher in one area of life doesn’t mean you are great in other areas.

Stay in your lane.  God bless the dead, but Kanye please don’t take her advice.

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