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Teaching Children to Internalize Praise

When one woman praises another woman’s outfit (“Teri, I love that dress—the color is great on you!”), you’ll often hear the other woman reply “I got it on sale” or “I’ve had it for years.” The recipient of the praise did not internalize the praise. In fact, she deflected it! So there is no way that she can feel good or be reinforced by the nice words that she turned down.

This is very common in our society to hear people, adults and children, not accept praise given. My own personal theory on the reason is that perhaps we took our parent’s message to not show off or brag too seriously and therefore are uncomfortable accepting a job well done or kind words about our appearance.

child character building booksSee side bar for information on Sharon's wonderful books for elementary-age children. There is a discounted price on the 5-book series that even includes a darling Nicholas puppet.

See "The Nicholas Collection" at HRDpress.

In my private counseling practice, I have difficulty getting my clients to even think positive thoughts about themselves each day. We don’t seem to have a problem thinking negative thoughts about ourselves (“I wished I weighed more/less” or “I wished I’d said xyz instead.”). Seems backwards too me!

Learning to accept praise with “Thank you,” or “That was so kind of you to say,” or “I appreciate you saying that” is important for parents to do. Why? Because it can help you to be kinder to yourself. The other reason is that your children are listening. They will pick up the same pattern as you and soon be deflecting praise. I’ve mentioned in many of my columns that specific praise, not vague compliments, is critically important to help children have a healthy sense of self worth.

I’m so glad that you are taking the time to read this newsletter and perfect your parenting skills. And you reply: (fill in the blank)!

Copyright ©2007, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author. Excerpted in part from Sharon’s classic parent guide,Peer Pressure Reversal.

P.S. Please see my other column, “The Counselor’s Corner,” on the connection between discipline and negative peer pressure.

Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT, has been making a difference in peoples’ lives for 30 years though her international keynotes and workshops, her eight award-winning books, and her private counseling services. Five of her books are a charming series for elementary-age children that she “co-authored” with her savvy Cocker Spaniel Nicholas. Each beautifully illustrated book teaches a valuable living skill such as managing emotions in Life’s Not Always Fair, building character in Nicholas’ Values, and making wise choices in Too Smart for Trouble. Sharon’s best-seller for teens is How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed. Her books are available from HRD Press, 800-822-2801.

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Books That Work! By Sharon Scott

Family counselor Sharon Scott is the author of 8 books including this delightful series for children that is "co-authored" by her savvy Cocker Spaniel Nicholas who makes learning valuable life skills fun.

Nicholas' Values is a delightful guide helping children develop good character traits such as honesty, confidence, sharing and so much more!

Too Cool for Drugs helps children learn why and how to say no to drugs--drug education must begin in the home at an early age!

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