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.

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.