I've been reading a pretty cool book on parenting entitled 1-2-3 magic (3rd ed.) and one of the things that struck me in the chapter on "Homework and Practicing" was what's called "The PNP Method." "PNP" stands for Positive-Negative-Positive , a method for helping with, for example, your child's homework.
Say they got 9 out of 10 right on the spelling practice test. Instead of immediately saying, "I see you spelled 'incontrovertible' wrong," which is the natural parental reaction, you say something like "You really worked hard on this! I see that you spelled 'intracellular' correctly. Great, that's quite a long word for a first-grader!" Then, you help correct the mistake. Then you finish on a positive note, like "Nine out of 10. Good job!"
Right now I don't need the method for my son, who is three; practicing piano and chess lessons can wait until he's four (heh).
However, like some other things in the book, the PNP Method also has application for adults. Specifically, when talking about my game last night with Ernie Hong (2006 USCF) in the Reno Chess Club Ch. Swiss.
I will start with the first positive: I felt good going into the game. For the first time in the last few weeks I had a decent night's rest and felt like I was really ready to play a good, hard game of chess.
The negative: I lost in 30 moves.
The second positive: I had fun. I enjoyed playing chess again, the process, unlike the last couple of weeks where I had an attitude problem and blew some good positions. This time I played all right in the opening, missed a chance for a tricky tactic that was pointed out after the game by Club Champ Bill Case, and made a move instead that allowed my opponent a tactic which led to material loss for me. Instead of getting pissed off, I tried my best to squirm out, did everything I could but in the end he nailed it down. I enjoyed the game, and the postmortem.
I feel like I'm back on track, I'm having fun. That's what it's all about, that and the chance to test yourself, work and improve. Now I need to get that part back on track!