Why Don’t You Ever Praise Me? Children and Praise

Why Don’t You Ever Praise Me? Children and Praise

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to talk about praise, why it is so critical to give and receive praise, how to give it and what to do if you never received it.

First a quick update:

“Profile of cat killers”
A teenager was arrested in a string of cat killings and mutilations in Miami, Florida. Some of the cats were skinned or gutted and the corpses left on the lawns or driveways of their owners. What type of person kills and mutilates cats? And why cats? Is it the result of childhood trauma (abuse, violence and torture) or a neurological dysfunction? Listen to the interview I give to Russ Morley, host of the morning show on News/Talk 850 WFTL about the profile of a cat killer. I reveal some of the common characteristics of Sociopathic and Psychopathic behavior (also known as Antisocial Disorder.)

“Baby Boomers and Divorce: A bumpy road for many”
I am the featured Relationship and Human Behavior Expert for the National Association of Divorce for Women and Children. Read the results of their new poll on divorce.

Now, let’s talk about praise and why it is so critical to give and receive praise, how to give it and what to do if you never received it.

The dictionary defines praise as the act of expressing approval, admiration or commendation. Every one of us desires praise at some level, and in one form or another. Praise is a member of the family of emotional needs: validation, recognition, approval, acceptance, support, encouragement, significance, self-expression, bonding, friendship, and so forth.

In my Success Newsletter, “It’s not about you”, I referred to Don Miguel Ruiz’s book: The Four Agreements. Ruiz teaches not to take things personally – including praise and criticism. His point is to be wary of becoming attached to other people’s opinions and judgments of you. I teach to seek balance in everything. In other words, while the goal is to seek your own approval and praise, it is also a real aspect of the human psyche that we need the praise of others – and children particularly need praise. The key here for all of us is not to live for praise and not to attach all of our self-worth and self-esteem to the praise of others.

Children and praise

Many of my adult clients suffer from various emotional symptoms as a result of not receiving praise as a child which is also equivalent to validation and guidance. Adults who didn’t receive praise as a child often suffer from self-doubt, insecurity and a lingering sense of not being or feeling good enough. Some turn into perfectionists, workaholics, or highly judgmental people. Unfortunately, today, the balance has tipped in favor of unhealthy praise by parents for their children.

Unhealthy refers to false praise which can create even more emotional problems into adulthood such as narcissism, vanity, depression and the inability to form meaningful and fulfilling relationships.

Healthy praise is the act of expressing approval, admiration, commendation, congratulations and credit for specific reasons and particularly for accomplishments.

The key to all praise is that it be deserved. Here are some other tips for praising children:

* Praise a child based on her own progress (teach her to improve her own performance rather than compete with others)

* Encourage good behavior with praise

* Reward the attainment of specific goals, not just participation

* Praise small improvements and successes

* Be descriptive and specific with your praise

Few adults, business leaders and even CEOs of major companies know how to praise properly and effectively. Most of us don’t realize that whatever it is that you praise, you will get more of. I was training a group of hotels from one of the world’s largest hotel chains. I asked participants to take turns in giving praise to fellow team members. I asked one gentleman to stand up and praise the head chef. This man stood up and proceeded to congratulate the chef for the superb Seafood Omelette, mentioning how much he enjoyed it. I asked the participants if they believed the chef would want to cook that same omelette again. The answer was a resounding yes. Now I began to praise the chef for the same omelette: I mentioned the creativity, presentation, hard work, thought, care and time the chef had given to prepare this omelette as well as the result and pleasure I received from it. I asked the chef which praise did he prefer, mine or the other man’s. He said mine. Why? I praised his specific qualities and dish rather than just the specific dish; my praise encouraged him to express more of these qualities rather than cook more of the same omelettes. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the man who gave the initial praise was a manager of one of the hotels. Later, when we spoke, he said he now understood why his wife cooks the same dish almost day after day – he kept praising just the dish and not her qualities, and, so she gave him more of what he praised!

Incidentally, in the corporate world, more emphasis is placed on criticism than praise and encouragement. For that reason many people resent their job, boss and company.

We express praise in many ways. We applaud the performance of singers, dancers and actors; we cheer for our sports teams and players; we tip waiters and other hospitality staff; we express affection – we hug friends and family. The praise most of us seek is from our loved ones and the people closest to us – parents, siblings, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. Most of us believe that if the person is important to us, then what they say is also important.

I never received the praise of my father so I never believed he was interested or proud of my achievements or accomplishments. In fact, he focused on criticism rather than praise and it takes six times more praise to neutralize one criticism. Nonetheless, one of the results for me was that I never learned to enjoy, appreciate, acknowledge or recognize my accomplishments. Instead, I simply turned my attention to the next challenge. The benefit was that I created and accomplished a lot in a very small amount of time. The disadvantage was that I would hover between bouts of apathy towards praise and bouts of seeking, desiring and almost demanding praise in relationships. Worse, I did not know how to praise nor understand the significance of praise. Remember, you cannot speak or express a language that you have never learned. Accordingly, I made a concerted effort to learn to give praise. And this is the key: begin to praise others and yourself – recognize your own achievements, successes and accomplishments as well as those of others. The more good you see in others, the more good you will see in you, and the more good you see in you, the more good you will see in others. Begin today to learn the language of praise by expressing it: applaud, honor, congratulate, pay tribute to, credit, respect, commend, admire and approve others. Write it; say it; express it today! And when you do it, don’t do it expecting a response from the person receiving it – simply give it away! You might need to push yourself at first to notice praiseworthy things and to express praise, but you will see small yet powerful changes as you keep doing it.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist
www.patrickwanis.com

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