Teaching Children to Internalize Praise by Sharon Scott, LPC LMFT
Teaching Children to Internalize Praise
By Sharon Scott, LPC, LMFT
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.
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 backward to 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.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.
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