Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

A question?

Growing up were you praised by your family?

We weren't.  We were criticised for our own good (and it probably was), but very, very rarely praised.  The rationale seemed to be that if we heard nothing we were doing well.  Pride/vanity were considered to be the same thing (which I now dispute) and were not encouraged. 

Thank you was rare too, and required something exceptional.  We accepted it, and didn't question it.  I have no idea whether it was common at the time or not.

An email exchange with a friend has had me thinking and I do wonder whether my lifelong battles with feelings of inadequacy had its birth in this family habit.

Some of my family traditions I keep.  Some I do not.  This is one I discarded.  I am happy to praise people and to thank them.

Mind you, I am not happy with the trend I have observed where children are praised/given awards for participation rather than achievement, which I suspect sets them up for feelings of failure when they branch out into a wider world.

Were you praised/thanked as a child?  And for those of you with children, do you praise them? 




186 comments:

  1. Very interesting post, EC. In the RC traditions I was raised. Praise could go to our heads, vanity was a sin. So never praised. Even with extremely high marks. it does affect the self esteem, doesn't it. Along with being called out all the time for bad behaviour or in my case "bad example" as I was the eldest of 6.

    I also have trouble with this constant "good job" callouts from parents even to children that fall far short of good not to mind excellent. I think it extremely damaging and setting them up for failure later. There needs to be some yard stick. but then again I don't believe in this winner-loser sports thing either. Another conversation - sorry.....:)

    XO
    WWW

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    1. Wisewebwoman: Perhaps it was a generational thing? We had no religious upbringing but the way we were raised seems very similar.
      A happy medium would be a most excellent thing.

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    2. High marks? My step siblings could come home with a 98% report card and instead of well done, my mum would say what happened to the other 2%.

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  2. Dear EC
    I was praised when I/my achievements warranted it but had a fair bit of competition from my two sisters. (I always felt they got more praise than me and I think they felt that as the youngest, I was indulged more than they were). As for the winning/losing, we were taught that we can't expect to win at everything, there are things we are not going to be so good at and that to lose graciously is important. I don't agree with this constant praise habit - as the child gets older, they will have to learn a hard lesson in that they can't win every time.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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    1. Ellie Foster: I am also the youngest. I heard my praise of my brothers (though not to their face). We were also certainly taught that we couldn't/shouldn't expect to win. We were also told that everyone has a special talent. Mine is taking its time to make an appearance.

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    2. E.C.: Within the context of the blog world, you have a particular talent for making others feel understood. You post thoughtful replies to people's blog posts letting them know that not only did you read the post, but you thought about what was communicated and you added to it.
      x Bea

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    3. What Bea said, including your help at Lifeline. thank you. A very big THANK YOU.

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  3. Oh my,, it makes very sad to think of a child receiving no praise at all, we weren’t praise fir doing everyday tasks but we were given praise for proper achievements, passing grades, things we had made, I think parents need to praise children for somethings but not overly so,, that causes monsters! A little praise goes a long way,, my husband received no praise and was raised to expect the worst then if something good happens it’s great,, I love him dearly , over forty years but he and his family are the most negative people I know. I’ve broken him of it somewhat, thankfully our children did not inherited that trait. You are such a talented caring person and I praise you for it, I say give praise where praise is deserved!

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    1. Laurie: Thank you. I don't think my family was particularly negative, but praise was a rarity (to the extent I cannot remember any examples). I agree with you, and do try and give praise and thanks whenever they are warranted.

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    2. My second ex-husband was raised in an abusive family to believe he is worthless and undeserving. Myself and several psychologists have spent years working on reversing that and there is progress but he still has days where he thinks he doesn't deserve to even have been born. It helps him a lot when his psychologist and I tell him exactly the same things to any problems he may be currently facing.

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    3. River: I am so glad that your ex-husband has you and his psychologists singing from the same song sheet. I wasn't ever told I was worthless but equally I wasn't told that I had any worth either. Something I still struggle with.

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  4. Praise and encouragement are the greatest gifts one can give to a child. I am very pleased to say that my own daughter still remarks to this day that she always appreciated a really supportive dad when she was growing up, who always made her feel that she could do it, whatever "it" was at the time. Makes me fee I did at least one thing right in life!

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    1. David M. Gascoigne: That sounds like a HUGE thing to get right. Support and encouragement are such precious gifts. How lovely that your daughter recognised it - and acknowledges it too.

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  5. Il bambino va sempre elogiato quando lo merita.
    Buona serata.

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    1. Giancarlo: I agree with you. It is morning here, and I hope your day/night is lovely.

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  6. Ohhhh, what a *good* question and I BET you get a gazillion responses, (i.e. which is a billion more than the trillion you always get, dear friend :)

    For me, I was not praised a lot, mainly because I later found out my Da had a harsh father and he didn't know how to. My Mom was way too young to have kids when she had me, so it was tough on her, too.

    I will, however, say they tried their best and that's all I can ask for.

    For me, because I was able to see and understand that, I've became a much more giving-praise Papa and my boys have a wonderful mother who continues that now.

    I didn't get a trophy just for finishing, so I strongly dislike that system these days. How do you measure hard work, effort and desire to *win* when all the lazy arses get the same reward(s), too...

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    1. Mark Koopmans: Much of my parent's early life is a mystery to me, but I strongly suspect their lives were not easy. Like yours, they did the best they could.
      Hooray for being a giving praise parent - and having two of them in the family is a big bonus.

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  7. I was acknowledged for exceptional achievement, I wouldn't say it was praise and I had to do something extraordinary.

    I learnt piano as a kid. I wasn't very interested and didn't practice well and eventually mum refused to pay for it. I was relieved.
    It must have been 15 years later that mum told me I'd played quite nicely. If only I had known that then, I might have tried harder and got to the point where it wasn't such hard work

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    1. kylie: That is so very sad. If only you had received some encouragement...

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    2. Yes. They are good people but wouldn't want to encourage a big head!

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    3. kylie: I suspect that big heads require constant feeding, rather than occasional encouragement.

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  8. I don't doubt for a minute your upbringing has colored your image of yourself....unfortunately. My upbringing was right up there with yours along with the old adage spare the rod and spoil the child. I made a conscious decision when we had children they would NOT be brought up like that. I love you and I'm proud of you was/is my mantra.

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    1. Sandra Cox: I love your mantra. I suspect that if I had children I would have tried to adopt a very similar attitude.

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  9. I was not praised or thanked that I remember. Wasn't that how it was for most of us who are of a certain age? Encouraged at times? Perhaps. Kylie's comment above is interesting. Also in common with those my age, I think the pendulum has gone too far the other way.

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    1. Andrew: We just accepted it, and didn't question it. As I said in the post I really didn't know whether it was the norm or not. It seems that to variable degrees it was. And yes to the pendulum swing as well.

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  10. never praised, always criticized, not only that but sibling comparisons, not encouraged unless it was the path they chose, it never broke my spirit but caused me to rebel, my spirit now suffers late in life. I often think if I had been praised or encouraged I could have been an artist my whole life instead of just late in life. I think children should be encouraged in all things especially early in life. Not overly praised but when it is due it should be done; praise and encouragement helps to build an sell developed self worth.

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    1. Linda Starr: Praise where praise is due, and encouragement sound so very right to me.

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  11. Constant criticism and irritation well seasoned with ignoring. Yes. That treatment make me what I am directions. It's not about pointlessly building self esteem as you point out.

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    1. Cloudia: Sadly yet another person who was brought up without the support which could have opened up the worlds...

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    2. Oh the ignoring, I remember well. After mum left with my siblings it was just me and dad and he had to go to work everyday, so I learned to get myself to and from school, which had its good parts, I'm very independent, mostly self-sufficient and resourceful and able to live alone without feeling lonely. I learned that I don't 'need' people, even though I have them and they like me.

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    3. River: I wasn't ignored enough, but the attention I received was critical. I too am mostly self sufficient and feel safest that way. I am much more likely to feel alone when I am with groups of people than when I am on my own.

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  12. should be - a well developed self worth

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  13. I received some praises as a child when I helped around the house. I always did my best and I love to clean the house for which my mother was well pleased. I was proud to make the house look better. She would say something like how clean it looked after I scrubbed the old wooden floor and how fresh it smelled or how good my bread turned out.

    I praised my children and let them know how proud I was of them but I never fought their battles with their little friends like one of my sister in law did.
    My kids were polite and well mannered and as grown up, they still are.

    I would say it's OK to praise children once in a while because it gives them a sense of self worth but it's not good to constantly praise them because it might give them a sense of entitlement.
    hugs, Julia

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    1. Julia: Yet another person who feels the pendulum has swung too far. I don't believe in praise for praises sake, but honest effort and achievements SHOULD be acknowledged in my eyes.

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  14. I see a trend today where parents don’t correct their children when they are in public areas. The children do whatever they want and the parents don’t say anything. Others have to adjust what they are doing to accommodate the unruly children. Does this go along with praise when it is unwarranted? I don’t know.

    My brother and I were celebrated for things we excelled in, but it wasn’t overdone. It helped with our confidence too knowing there were things we did well and hard work helped us achieve.

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    1. Marie Smith: I have seen that trend too. And abhored it. I don't know whether it travels with excessive praise or not. Perhaps. We certainly were 'expected' to behave when out, and were reined in if the line was crossed. I have no problems with that either.
      I am glad that you and your brother's achievements were celebrated. Ours were not.

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    2. The old house that my son bought (where I am living too) was used as housing for teachers in the 1960s and 1970s. They painted a mural on the dining room wall and painted pictures of angels in the upstairs bathrooms.
      Unfortunately, one of the later owners of the place was this absolute dingbat with five children who let the kids run wild. When the kids drew on the mural, instead of scolding them and trying to correct what they'd done, she just painted over it. My son is trying to find out if there is any way it could be restored. Then they painted over the angels with images of cartoonish fish.
      This woman taught her kids that the only thing that was important were their feelings in the moment. I can only imagine what nightmares they must have been and what entitled adults they grew into.

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    3. The Real Cie: I hope the mural and the angels can be restored, and would like to see photos of the process.

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  15. Yes I was praised, thanked and encouraged as a child, and I did this with my children and now my grandchildren.

    I also think we don't always take time to tell those we love that we love them … and never be afraid to offer a hug, it's so reassuring.

    Good post :)

    All the best Jan

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    1. Lowcarb team member ~Jan: I am very glad for you. It does seem (judging by the comments here) that you were perhaps in the minority, and it is a tradition well worth maintaining.

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  16. What a fascinating question, EC!

    I think the culture when I was growing up was a little different, children were not really considered the same way they are now. Praise was not usual, it was very rare, when some exceptional achievement had been made. Discipline, both in school and home was stricter. Smacking/hitting was not considered abuse. I had lots of rules to follow, less encouraged to question authority. No-one felt they owed children any politeness and/or explanations. Affection wasn't expressed very often. Tough love, and no hearts worn on sleeves. Standard of living itself was different, people didn't have the time to fuss too much over children, harder lives, less free time.

    I am a more laid back parent than the previous generations. I do think it is necessary to model the behaviour that we want them to learn. So no fulsome praise for every little thing, but a quiet family celebration of major achievements when it's merited. Ground rules in my household - 1) be kind 2) do your best 3) I love you no matter what 4) you make my life sparkle and don't you forget it :)

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    1. Nilanjana Bose: Your experiences mirror mine. 'Children were to be seen, not heard'. There were some pluses, and certainly mixed messages were rare, but I do regret the absence of encouragement. I really, really like your ground rules.

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    2. Just came back here to say this thread is an eye opener and to thank you for starting it, EC. I've been following the responses and it is mind boggling the similarities that transcend cultural and geographical borders!

      Also wanted to add that there was an extra dimension to inadequacy if one was a female growing up in the 20th century in India, at least in my family, typical middle class professionals. Using make up or wanting to dress smart was thought shallow and vain. Forget skin showing anywhere, even a hemline above the knee was a huge no-no, 'who do you think you are, a film star?' :) There are body image issues being shoved down girls' throats even now, but in different ways. And boys are not exempted, but the pressures are slightly less.

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    3. Nilanjana Bose: Clothing was a bit of a fraught area here too. There were the clothes my parents considered affordable/appropriate and the ones my peers wore. The twain didn't meet. Sadly you are right about the body issues too.

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  17. Over the moon because I actually received a 'A' for a piece of school work - my mother replied with the comment.....well if you could do it this time why couldn't you do it any other time!
    No no praise for me.

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  18. I can't recall if I were praised. I *think* I was...? I felt praise from teachers and grandparents. I know that as the baby of the family and my mother's only birth child my siblings felt I had been favored, in some way, by her. As a result, my sibs regularly let me know how not special I was.

    I recall my mother telling me I could be anything that I wanted to be like an astronaut or a fireman, but I don't recall that being the prevailing message in society, so I don't know if I really believed her words.

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    1. Bea: I do hope you were praised, and love that you got support from teachers and grandparents. My brothers are all considerably older than I am, and I was often ignored by them. If not ignored I was certainly put in my lowly place.

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  19. Praise was rare when I was growing up. After I became a teenager, it made my mother happy that I was very thin (almost anorexic) and that boys liked me (she was angry if I didn't want to date someone I knew to be a jerk). I was never praised for good grades. I have a box full of medals I won in high school debate/forensics. A friend of mine told me that every time she won a medal her mother attached it to a black velvet piece inside a frame and hung them on the wall. I don't think anyone ever looked at my medals. I praised my children, especially my daughter, and criticized when necessary. I think I was too hard on my son. He was the first child and seemed very different from what I expected of a son. I regret my criticism of him and have apologized to him. It was easier for me to relate to my daughter, who was so much like me. I think both of my children remember the criticism and have forgotten the praise. I'm sorry you weren't praised. I was also bullied by older siblings and it scarred me emotionally.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie Junebug: It seems that most of us were praised rarely. I am so sorry that the praise you did receive was for 'the wrong things'. Your story about your schoolwork medals reminds me of my mother's attitude to the art I made at school and brought home. She told me to take it to a nearby neighbour - because she doesn't have children. None of it was ever displayed at home. I am very impressed (and unsurprised) that you apologised to your son when you thought you had been too hard on him. I am sorry that they remember the criticism but not the praise.

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    2. Even now I still have a few pieces of art my kids brought home from school, and they are in their 40s. Most of them, one is only 38.

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    3. River: Not one piece of my art (or any of my work) was ever displayed at home. I still tend to hide things I create. I love that you have kept some of your children's art. I am sure they do too.

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  20. I don’t remember being praised but I also don’t remember not being praised. I always knew I was loved and that they were there for me and my siblings. They were very kind people and always put others before them. Letting a child know they did well is important, but the everybody is a winner trend teaches nothing to a child.

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    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: Knowing that you were loved and had their support is hugely important (and valuable). I agree wholeheartedly about the 'every one is a winner' trend. I think it discourages effort.

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  21. Only what i did wrong was pointed out. My children were not given a prize for everything, but they were encouraged to always give and do their best.

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    1. messymimi: It sounds as if your upbringing was similar. I didn't want prizes, but some encouragement would have been nice, the sort of encouragement you gave your childen. In my case it was an expectation rather than encouragement.

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  22. In living with my 89 year old mother for the past 19 years, I understand that we learn so much from our parents.
    For example, I avoid a disagreement at all costs. I live with my mentor. One time I mentioned my lifelong feeling of being an outsider to my mother. She felt it was her fault. She had the same lifelong feeling and worried she passed it on.

    Praise, as a child growing up, I was praised for being attractive and smart. It gave me a confidence and a false sense of security. Life is tough and it will challenge you to your core.

    What I do know is being born an independent thinker can be frustrating. And this I recognize I learned from my mother.

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    1. Ann Bennett: How interesting. We do indeed learn a lot from our parents. I try and fulfil some of the things I learnt, and reject others. I will also do quite a lot to avoid confrontation.
      I was in my thirties before I realised that I am not stupid, there was definitely no praise for either my brain or my appearance.
      Independent thought can be scary. And sometimes very lonely. I am grateful that it is one of the gifts I was given though.

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    2. Surprising to me that you have felt you weren't brainy. Your writing is so clear and concise. Standard English is not my forte. When I retired, I descended into my cultural abyss.

      You've created a great discussion. I've learned about "tall poppies" and the "law of Jante". No wonder we Americans are a pain. We love the different and sometimes the exceedingly successful.

      Humility is a gift and I guess a sparsity of praise is an effort to cultivate it.

      When a cool breeze of sweet air hits you during this hot Australian summer. That is Ann from Georgia sending you some love.

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    3. Ann Bennett: My family valued maths and science brains. Exclusively. I don't have a fraction of their talents in either arena and was definitely considered lesser.
      I would welcome a cool breeze of sweet air. Thank you.

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    4. I did okay in science (biology anyway). I sucked at math. I failed basic college math the first time and had to take it twice. My father valued literary pursuits, in fact he was a professor of liberal arts. My mother was always hypercritical and still is to this day. (My father passed away 9 years ago.) I don't tell my mother about any of the projects I'm working on. She'd just think it was a bunch of nonsense.

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    5. I don't like to admit this on social media in that I use my actual name. My childhood was not the worst. It was not the best. Both of my parents had some major baggage. Luckily, they had a capacity for love and loyalty. That part of their character stayed with me during difficult times.

      What I have keyed into is the pain you feel. I have that inner voice that doubts and criticizes constantly. I feel your pain. I have had lifelong depression. I imagine I would be what would be called a high functioning person with depression.

      I read in your caption that you have MS. A symptom of MS is depression. I can't diagnose you in that I don't know you personally nor am I a medical professional who can make the diagnosis.

      As far as math and science brains being of merit above linquistics and history, malarky. If we were all the same, nothing of merit would ever be produced.

      We have the math, science, mechanical inclination in my father's family. Even my developmentally delayed brother's limited skills are better in these areas. Believe me, these abilities are worthless if you cannot express them.

      My second soapbox is that why does anyone need to be exceptional. It is with humility that I learned my good grades growing up had more to do with my good behavior.

      With the 8 documented intelligence's, math supersedes them in that it can be measured in almost all tests. We don't think of interpersonal or intrapersonal intelligence as important. Just ask that person who flounders throughout life due to a lack of one or both.

      I don't know what closure you had with your parents. I had to forgive mine. I'm sure they have forgiven me for my faults. Sometimes you have to confront people. With my mother, it would have caused so much pain in that she has had a painful life in many ways. So I let it go. One thing about forgiveness, it helps you so much more than the person you forgive. (My parents were preventing me from being a tall poppy. There is more.) As a driven person, it has caused me so much frustration.

      I hope you take this well. I write it with love. I never confess the burdens I carry. I'm sure they are all over my writing.

      Talk to your doctor. There may be new treatments available. I have a friend with clinical depression. I know it is very difficult to treat. Take care my friend.

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    6. Ann Bennett. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. The high functioning person with depression is probably a label which fits here too. Mostly. I am fortunate in that I have an eye for beauty and wonder. Both help.
      I agree with you about the maths/science brain supremacy being wrong, but didn't question it until much later. About the time I realised that I am not stupid.
      I have, for the most part, let my difficulties with both parents go. Like depression it sometimes re-emerges and bites. Hard. That said, while I believe that some of the lessons I was taught were emphatically wrong, I am grateful for others.

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  23. I was praised, thanked when growing up for my achievements which were many. Didn't expect to be though, but was always happy as an only child. However I wasn't permitted to think a lot for myself, was told what to do but it didn't bother me at all.

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    1. Margaret-whiteangel: Another different take. I am so glad you had lots of achievements which were celebrated. Like you, I was told what to do. It did bother me, and I still don't accept authority easily. Respect for authority has to be earned rather than given in my eyes.

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  24. I think discipline in general has changed with each generation, but it's also different from family to family within each generation. I always felt supported (which is different from praise) by my parents, was held to a high standard in the areas where they knew I could do well, and received discipline when it was needed. I was a pretty laid back kid and wanted to please, so I didn't do much to rile them but I do remember getting tongue-lashings from time to time.

    I think that beyond generational and familial differences in child-rearing there are also differences in our individual personalities, i.e., how we react to the kind of upbringing we had. Some folks pass on the harshness they received, and others - like you - do the opposite, but I don't think it mitigates the damage done to those folks. It just stops the cycle, hopefully - because we all know of the other kind of folks, the ones who had easy upbringings who somehow become very harsh in their dealings with others even though it was not the example they grew up with.

    I think praise for effort, not just accomplishment, is important as well, with a caveat - it must be for honest effort, and not just for minimal effort. If a child finds something difficult, and makes an honest effort, I feel it is important to encourage them, and quiet praise is a healthy motivator to help them to keep trying and not feel overwhelmed. Our constant message to our kids in school was that we expected them to do their best, whatever that best looked like. We had a pretty good idea (as my parents did with me) what that 'best' was.

    I don't know if this is everything I want to say in answer to your questions, but it's all I can think of at the moment.

    I do know that you are a kind and understanding and smart and humble and helpful person who I am so happy to have as a friend. You are one of "the good guys" in this world, dear EC. Please let the good things people are telling you about yourself become part of the soundtrack of your mind :)

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    1. jenny_o: Humble and heartfelt thanks. I agree that effort should be praised/celebrated. Growth begins with effort.
      My memory might be faulty but I think we were expected to be 'the best' not our best. Naturally, there were failures. Not for lack of effort, but they were considered failures just the same.

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    2. Yes, what a difference one word makes.

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    3. jenny_o: Sticks and stones will break my bones and words will never hurt me is one of the most fundamental fibs I think I was fed.

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  25. I don't recall explicit praise. Well, not over-the-top gushing.And certainly I was never put down by my parents.If I got something wrong I was told or shown the correct way. And was, I suppose, expected to never get it wrong again.(insert smiley!)
    But if I made something that was pleasing,it was acknowledged.



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    1. dinahmow: That sounds like a much more balanced approach. We were ridiculed if we got things wrong. We were told/shown the correct way but also made to feel stupid for not doing it that way the first time.
      It did/does make it very scary to attempt new things, knowing that initial attempts are likely to be less than stellar.

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    2. I think (I actually stopped to think about this!) that we come in for criticism much more from our peers and perhaps attentive parents are aware of this and gently adjust the steering.
      Not in every case, obviously.So many juvenile suicides indicate otherwise.But when I was a child my mother did not go out to work;my father worked long days and evening meals were given over to "what did you do today?" as conversation starters.And I think family engagement helps.

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    3. dinahmow: I don't think I did get more criticism from my peers - or if I did I ignored it. What did you do today is a lovely addition to the evening meal. Sadly, from memory the floor was my father's.

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  26. Gosh, it's so long ago I don't really remember, but I think I was. In fact I'm sure I was praised when it was deserved and corrected when necessary. I certainly do not agree with the type of upbringing you describe and think it is a form of cruelty in a parent. If you love your child, I think it is immaterial what your own upbringing was you should be doing your best to encourage said child and to help the child to do better by such encouragement.

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    1. Jo: How lovely that you were both praised and corrected as appropriate. I believe that my parents thought that they were doing their best for me. With the benefit of hindsight I disagree, but their intent was good.

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  27. I wasn't praised or thanked as a child, wasn't criticised either, so I didn't do nearly enough praising of my own children and I'm sorry for that along with being sorry for all the hugs I didn't give them, because I never got hugged myself. We do tend to raise our children the way we got raised. I did praise their school reports and artwork they brought home and other little things like when they learned to tie their shoes, pee in the toilet, make their own beds and so on. So it wasn't entirely a praiseless raising for them as my own raising was. But I see the difference now in my grandchildren who were raised in the manner of my son-in-law, with daily hugs and praise for things well done, lots of encouragement to try new and different things.

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    1. River: Now that pulled me up short. I had forgotten, but you are right, we were very rarely shown physicall (or verbal) affection. I find hugs from people I don't know very well very difficult and freeze a bit. Your son-in-law sounds like he has got the difficult job of parenting down well. The praise you gave your children was more than either you or I received and I think a big step in the right direction.

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    2. My oldest daughter still turns away rather than hug me or accept a hug from me because it's uncomfortable for her, and for me too, although I still try now and again.

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    3. She does hug others and get hugged, so I'm happy for that.

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    4. My parents believed that showing too much affection would result in a spoiled child. Now people think I'm weird because I don't like to be touched. I'm verbally supportive of my son, but neither of us is comfortable with much physical contact. When he was little I was always physically affectionate, though, because I didn't want him to grow up with the same issues that I have.

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  28. No, I can't remember too much praise, Sue. I think it's Aussie culture - look how we pull down the Tall Poppies. We don't like anyone with a big head, which is why we make jokes about some overseas politicians (naming no names here). But of course my children got plenty of praise. No good carrying on traditions which as you say has probably added to the inadequacy of our generation.

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    1. Denise Covey: Neither of my parents was Australian born (I am a first generation Aussie). They were quick to pull down tall poppies though - including poppies they suspected had 'tickets on themselves' and were aiming for the sky. Life is always a work in progress isn't it?

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    2. It's okay. You can say Tangerine Palpatine.

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  29. I believe it is important to praise a child - to show them they are appreciated! I was often praised at home.

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  30. I always knew my parents loved me. Mum would give praise but my Dad thought it would give me a big head. Hard as a young teenager and you want your Dad's approval of the little things like the new dress you have on. Mum was a migraine sufferer and sometimes the discipline was a bit harsh when one was coming on. I too struggle with self esteem but my husband is my rock and loves me in-spite of my silly quirks. It is sad that we reach a mature age and still struggle with self esteem. I hope my children feel loved though I think the eldest bore the brunt of my own upbringing.

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    1. Anna: Sadly I think many of us struggle with self esteem issues all our lives. I am sure your husband does love you - and one of my mother's better quotations springs to mind. She said 'I prefer my families faults to other people's virtues.'
      Migraines are evil beasts.

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  31. I was praised but sparingly. My mother did not want me to have too high an opinion of myself. It took years of working with mental health professionals to undue the dynamic set in place by my mother and her husband.

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    1. e: That too high opinion was known in our house as 'tickets on yourself' and never got a chance.

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  32. Like many other I think it was the time ... some ideal of not giving kids big egos. Today we are in the opposite extreme.
    It sure sounds like Australians have their dose of the Law of Jante.
    I try to remember to say Thank you and praise my children when they do well, but not for participating only - except when participating takes courage, then praise is in place there too.

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    1. ... and to join in the praise of your own self ... When you was in your "black spot" and did not comment on other peoples' blogs, I missed you and your comments so much, that I decided to post a chapter of Susan's story every day if posible, just to lure you out of that hole.

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    2. Uglemor: The Law of Jante was most definitely one my parents kept. Religiously. Some of it sticks here to this day.
      Thank you so much for your kindness. I really appreciate it but didn't put this post up hunting for praise. Really I didn't.
      I find it fascinating that to a greater of lesser extent this tendency crossed geographical and cultural boundaries. As does the 'over praise' which may be a reaction to the no praise thing.

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    3. The Law of Jante is new to me and very interesting - I had no idea that countries I've always held in high regard actually have this unwritten social code. MotherOwl, is this still prevalent at the current time?

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    4. I just looked up the Law of Jante. Ugh. That hurts.

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    5. I'd never heard of the Law of Jante and now that I have I wish I still didn't know. It sounds so wrong to me.

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  33. I've seen the damage each extreme can do. A lack of confidence on one hand, an overbearing self centered quality on the other.
    It's never easy, is it...

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    1. Bill: No, it is never ever easy. Parenting is a very important job, and filled with mine fields.

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  34. I praise but yes, we were not. We were always found lacking and were compared.

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    1. Authors with Advice: I am so sorry to hear this. And equally glad to hear that you praise.

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  35. I try to block out my entire childhood, EC, gosh darn!

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    1. Strayer: From the things you have told us about your childhood I am not surprised. Not at all surprised.

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  36. Interesting to think about this now. But yes, this issue is quite prevalent.

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    1. Romance Reader: I suspect it is an issue which has been nagging at me for a while, and I am sorry to read how often the two extremes come into play.

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  37. Growing up my parents did give encouragement for participating or trying something and praise for accomplishing something. But there wasn’t any over praise.

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    1. Mason Canyon: I am glad. It sounds as if you got the best of both worlds.

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  38. Groqing up, I definitely did not hear words of praise in our house. We had to do something really amazing to hear that from my parents. My brothers struggle with positivity too. They are very stoic. I, on the other hand, made the choice long ago to encourage my kids- I reward them when they excel but always remain a positive force for them.

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    1. Kathie J.: I am so glad that your choice was different to your upbringing. And know that the people around you benefit.

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  39. I certainly feel I was praised as a child, but I don't actually remember. I know I was loved and cherished, which was the important thing, and I believe it also made me a little self-centered.

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    1. DJan: Knowing that you were loved and cherished is a wonderful gift. I am very surprised to hear you describe yourself as self-centred though.

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  40. No, like you, there wasn’t a lot of praise. My dad couldn’t find the words but I think that was because he came up hard too.

    My mom was the disciplinarian. If my siblings or I did something exceptional we might get a little praise but that was rare.

    The one time I remember her saying she was proud of me was when I received my diploma for my master’s degree.

    Both of my parents quit school. My dad went to the 5th and mom the 10th. I think they were proud of us all, but feared that telling us would “go to our heads.”

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    1. Rick Watson: I am sorry that you also experienced this. And sorry for those of our parents whose own lives lead them to this path.

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  41. It was a mix for me, I think.

    Some praise builds in the wrong way. You "are good" is good. You "are better than" robs you. We lived in a couple of small towns when we were kids. My mom thought very little of the second place and encouraged us to do better by moving to a better place when we were older. This sounds wise, kind of, doesn't it? Looking back, what a thing to say. Life can be good anywhere, almost, and we only have to look around to see our blessings. They are everywhere. I did move out of my small town back then and went to a much bigger city. It was nice in some ways, but it wasn't better. "You can do better," is a strange kind of praise. It has a bad effect on how some of us see the world, ourselves, and other people.

    Thank you:
    My 3 year old great-nephew says thank you whenever anyone gives him anything. It is endearing and so polite!

    Oh no:
    "We were criticised for our own good..."
    But it wasn't.

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    1. Sandi: I wonder whether no praise of 'wrong' praise is more dangerous. And really don't know. I think much of my parent's criticism came down to 'you can do better' 'you should do better' 'we expect you to do better'. All of them imply a kind of pride in us, but that pride didn't translate well. I hope what I was trying to say was clear.
      Love that your great nephew is a firm believer in thank you. You are right - it is endearing.

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    2. Yes, yes, it was clear. :)

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  42. No. I wasn't praised as a child, I was criticized. As I grew I was appreciated for being the first in the family to go to college.
    I am certain an excess of criticism in childhood can cause feelings of inadequacy in adulthood. An excess of praise, especially if it is exaggerated, can cause feelings of inadequacy too or a false, grandiose self image.

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    1. Myrna R.: Exactly. Yet another area where we would benefit from a happy medium ground...

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  43. I was never praised, quite the opposite. It's taken me a long time to get rid of my inferiority complex.

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    1. gigi-hawaii: I am glad you could get rid of that complex.

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  44. My parents never praised or complimented me on my achievements. I was lucky to get a "I love you."

    I did not make that mistake.

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    1. Susan Kane: Snap. I don't remember an 'I love you' either though some how we did assume it. Some actions speaking louder than words?

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  45. I spent most of my adult life seeking my father's praise, approval and acceptance, and never felt that I got it before he died. I know that my husband was [and still is by some of his family] constantly put down, which has contributed to his own lack of self-esteem. It is a fine line that we all walk between the child we were and the person we want to be. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish between the two, especially if those in our lives don't see us as we wish we could be seen. I have found that we have to take control of our own self-images, which often involves saying positive affirmations to our own reflections in the mirror, or being reminded constantly by seeing positive affirmations we place around the house. It is never too late to grow up and be the person you want to be.

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    1. Cindi Summerlin: Thank you. I know that positive affirmations work (and work well) for lots of people. I struggle with them, and simply don't believe them. A work in progress (which is true of so many things).

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    2. If you cannot believe in yourself, who can you believe in? Believing in your own worth and value is fundamental in the ability to believe in others. I think that you believe in your own worth and value more than what you are aware of, otherwise, how could you praise and encourage all of us? Or all of those that you help on your call line? I'm in cognitive/behavior therapy now to help me with my anger at my mother for the way she has lied and manipulated me, something that I believe also cost me many lost years of relationships with my father and with my brother and his daughter. I'm trying to change the relationship with my brother and niece, but will never have that chance with my father. I think that just because someone raises us the same way they were raised, it doesn't make it right. I have always believed that parents can really only set the foundation for us. Once we get into the world of our peers through schooling and jobs, it is our responsibility to become the best we can be for (and to) ourselves and others. My father could have chosen to not be like his father, and could have been more communicative and expressive in his relationship with me. But he chose not to. I know this for a fact because of how different he was from his twin, and his twin's relationship with my cousins. My uncle made a conscious decision to NOT be like his father, and his children reaped the rewards for that decision in their close relationships.

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    3. Cindi: I have seen that line of reasoning before (and the similar one which says you cannot love other people if you do not love yourself). Forgive me, but I cannot understand either. I don't love myself, (or even like myself very often). I do accept myself (mostly). And work on continuous improvement. I value/love differences. And am happy to provide encouragement to anyone on their journey so long as they don't hurt others. I am so very glad to hear that you are finding support and assistance which you can understand/accept in your battle to understand/reduce the impact of the past

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    4. I don't know that loving yourself in order to love others is necessarily true, but I've known a few people who hate everyone and everything and after speaking with them, realise it's because they hate themselves for some reason or other. I like myself, I think I've done a pretty good job of raising myself, and with raising my kids, I could have done better, but at the time I did not know that, I did the best I could the best way I knew how, so I'm satisfied with that even with now knowing there were things I didn't do that I should have. I think most importantly, I'm at peace with myself.

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    5. River: I think we can all do better, but I am so pleased to hear that you like yourself and are at peace with yourself.

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    6. "I have seen that line of reasoning before (and the similar one which says you cannot love other people if you do not love yourself). Forgive me, but I cannot understand either."
      I agree. There are people (and animals) that I love very much. But I don't love myself and most of the time I don't like myself. At best I tolerate myself.

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    7. The Real Cie: Yes. I accept myself (mostly). Loving and liking are a step too far.

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  46. I was raised by two very critical people, and I've worked for years to get beyond it. I've failed. The harm they did can't be measured, but I did not repeat their mistakes. Not that I haven't made my own. LOL Still, that kind of atmosphere is wounding on a very deep level. And I know for certain that all my health issues are due to the suppression of anger, fear, and pain and now from the constant self-punishment I dole out when I don't live up to my own expectations. It's a lifetime struggle. Sometimes I win, most often I lose. This last year, when things got too tough I bailed. Instead of relying on the help of others I chose to disappear and handle it alone. Maybe that's why this last book is so dark. I've found my writing tends to mirror my life. Sorry I didn't intend to go on and on, but it's been on my mind a lot lately. Thanks!
    As for my boys, I tried hard to find a balance for their sakes and they are two of the sweetest kids ever, well, adults now. But life is a struggle and knowing all the answers, well, no one has those! Love, and lots of it is key. At least I hope so!

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    1. Yolanda Renee: You didn't go on and on. Not at all. I value your comment. And understand it only too well. I am a self punisher too. And harder on myself than I am on others (which I expect is true of you too).
      I love that you took a very different approach with your boys. And that they are you are rewarded. Love and kindness never go astray. Never ever.

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    2. I think you and I are in similar leaky boats. However, perhaps we deserve praise for keeping those boats afloat!

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    3. The Real Cie: The constant baling is exhausting isn't it?

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  47. Interesting question. I don't think we were praised often. It was our job to do well in school so no praise when we did. We'd just met the expectation. As a teacher, I've seen the power of praise in both positive and negative ways. I've leaned that praise for effort, work ethic, and attitude is far better for my kids than praise for results. And I'm very proud of what great people my kids are! :)

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    1. Jemi Fraser: Praise for effort, attitude and work ethic matter. A lot. Sometimes 'luck' has a part to play in results, which it doesn't in the former. Love your pride in your children and suspect that they know about it (and appreciate it).

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    2. Thanks - I hope they do! :)

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  48. Replies
    1. Giancarlo: Thank you. Thursday was productive and I hope for more of the same today. I hope your week is lovely.

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  49. We were expected to be exceptional always. I ended up feeling like I never measured up and that feeling persists to this day. My family was very perfectionistic and I was a constant disappointment.

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    1. The Real Cie: I so understand the not measuring up.

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  50. I like to honestly praise people, when somrone does smth right, I think he deserves a compliment☺

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    1. natalia20041989: Honest praise is the key. And yes, compliments honestly meant are lovely.

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  51. All interesting responses. Nothing much to add ...

    I can't help the rhyme in me. :)

    Were you thanked as a child?
    OR
    Were you spanked as a child?

    ( Been without internet too long. lol )

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    1. nothoughtsnoprayernonothing: It is lovely to see you back. I hope your internet is now stable. I was very, very rarely spanked. Or thanked. Critism on the other hand...

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  52. Yes and No. My Mother had a way of picking where you often didn't think what you did was good enough...like dusting or something; but then also had a way of instilling self worth by saying things like, if they don't like you it's there problem, something wrong with them. She made me believe I could do anything I wanted...so I guess it must have been a balanced + and -? Thanked, I can't say I remember we kids being thanked, but we were taught to thank others. AND I totally agree they've gone to far with participation trophies, and as a result kids become teens, go away to school and can't handle anything because they are not prepared for the world not to revolve around them.

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    1. Sandy: I am glad you got a balance. It sounds like an excellent one too. The problem I see with participation trophies is that it means that the children have no experience of failure - which then comes as a horrendous shock. My parent's style, flawed as it was, meant that I had no expectation of constant success. Expecting that at least some of the time I would/will fail, also instilled the habit of continuing to try.

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  53. Thank you so much to everyone who commented here and continuing the discussion. As I said, I didn't know how common my upbringing was, and I have learnt that it crosses generations, cultures and geography.

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  54. I don't remember getting praised too much growing up (was it just the way it was back then?) but neither were we criticized, and we always felt loved. I always give praise when praise is due. I do think that children especially need to be told they did well, but then adults need that also at times. At some point or another we all need to know that what we do is appreciated, even though I was always told that we don't do for others to receive praise, and I agree with that. Sometimes, however, it's nice to get some appreciation.

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    1. DeniseinVA: It is definitely nice to get some appreciation - and yes, I too was told that praise/appreciation is no reason to do things.

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  55. I think the best praise I ever got was from my grandfather who would take me along to his house calls even when I was young was that I had a mind of a man. I was not a pretty girl during a time that prettiness was important. I was reminded of this constantly though was told that at least I am smart enough to get a good job. The few compliments I got about my appearance I remembered: good teeth, nice hands.. faint praise indeed. I was able to improve my appearance when I was a teenager. My old boyfriend contacted me not long ago to tell me how he remembered me as beautiful.

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    1. Sue in Italia/In the Land of Cancer: I am so sorry that your best praise compared you to a man. And for the comments about your looks. Sadly prettiness is still considered important - for girls and women.

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  56. Praise was given when it was due...it wasn't given willy-nilly just for the sake of handing it out. When it was given we knew it was genuine.

    Any signs of us getting a swollen head...or "too big for our boots" were soon knocked out of us...I don't mean literally. My brother and I weren't spanked or slapped...ever...the warnings were enough for us to take heed and toe the invisible, but clearly understood line!

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    1. Lee: 'Too big for our boots' was a phrase we heard much more often than praise. I am glad that you knew the praise you received was genuine.

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  57. Praise was always hard earned.

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  58. We were praised when there was reason, but more often we heard criticism. A thank you, however, we heard often.
    I did praise my daughter (and I still do), but I also criticized when I thought it appropriate. I always wanted my daughter to gain a healthy amount of confidence, and if nothing else I achieved that. In my opinion, there has to be a good, healthy balance between praise and criticism, and criticism should never be demeaning but constructive.
    My mother still couldn't "believe" what I was doing - no wonder that my confidence is not the best. I never wanted my daughter to experience that.

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    1. Carola Bartz: I like your balanced approach, and in the years I have been following your blog I am unsurprised by it. Lack of confidence can be a very heavy weight can't it?

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  59. In my family growing up, my grandmother (where I spent a lot of time) praised me liberally and made me feel loved and valued. My mom, on the other hand, loved me as much as my grandmother, but she tore me down with her words thinking she was funny (calling me ugly, crud, dummy, things like that). It affected me for years, chipping a bit at my self-confidence, and I had a silent resentment towards her (which caused me to also feel guilty). I have resolved that now, but it took me many years... In my house, I do my best to make sure my kids know they are valued, loved and appreciated. We do say and mean, 'please' and 'thank you.' I treat them with respect and kindness, but growing up, they knew boundaries and that praise was genuine and not fluff. Were we a perfect house? Nope, but we were a content and happy one.

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    1. mail4rosey: I don't know any perfect families. Content and happy is a wonderful accolade. And yes, I hear you on the UNfunny criticism.

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  60. Like you, I was constantly criticised as a child. My mother used to tell me she had never wanted me, so I grew up with virtually no self-esteem...something I still battle with as a sixty-four-year-old.
    As you probably know, my daughter passed away aged only two weeks, so I never had the chance to get to know her. But in the case of my son, well I probably encouraged him too much, in compensation for my own upbringing, I guess.๐Ÿ˜•
    In conclusion, I think the best way is maybe to treat children with a balance of loving encouragement and gentle discipline.
    I know I was far from the best parent. I just tried to give him a sense of self-worth that I have never had.
    I must have done something right though...because he is kind, caring and confident.๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Much love and hugs ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

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    1. Ygraine: If your son is kind, caring and confident you did a LOT right. Which doesn't surprise me at all.
      Hugs.

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  61. No, I wasn't praised at all, quite the opposite. But having lived through that, I find it so rewarding to live a life of gratitude, thanks and positivity. I don't have kids but if I did, they would have a whole other upbringing that's for sure.

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    1. Rain: Welcome and thank you. Gratitude and appreciation are wonderful things aren't they? Like you I hope that if I had children they would have had a very different upbringing to my own.

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  62. Praise was a very rare commodity when I was a child. If my father didn't have something legitimate to criticize me about, he made something up. My mother wasn't a touchy-feely kind of person, and she didn't offer much in the way of praise, either, but at least, she didn't constantly criticize. Ironically, I busted my butt trying to please them, but by the time my father finally said the words, "I'm proud of you," I no longer cared. I was well into my forties by then, and hearing those words made me cry with a freeing kind of relief, because I realized I no longer needed his approval.

    Me? I give compliments and praise freely. I remember how demoralizing it was to feel so unappreciated, so I guess I kinda bend over backwards the other way. I don't believe in offering accolades when they aren't warranted, like those silly "participation awards," but there is almost something positive that can be expressed in all honesty.

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    1. Susan: I have seen, and benefited from you positivity, and love that you too rejected that part of your upbringing.

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  63. You struck a nerve with many of us here. I think it was our parents' generation that grew up with the idea you must not praise your children or they will become "too big for their britches" as we heard it in our area. My mother did praise my sisters and me, but never did my father even seem to approve of us. Sadly, I learned many years after his death, from my older brother that Daddy did have good words for me but not to my face, only to others. My mother and all my family except my father heaped praise on my oldest brother who became family leader as my father's health deteriorated. I spent my life yearning for praise and approval from my father and my older brothers. Thankfully, I have become wise in my old age and now know that all of us had that need and our parents didn't mean to hurt us with their behavior. It was what they were taught and believed. It is sad that parents don't have to take classes in how to be a good parent. It is on the job training for most people and often the children learn what not to do from their parents. I am a firm believer in showing appreciation and giving praise when due. I think it is why I am considered a good leader in my profession and why I was a good teacher of elementary school children. I hope you will love yourself and realize how important you are to so many of us and to those you help with their mental health. You are special, EC. Your comments here should prove that to you.

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    1. Glenda Beall: 'Too big for their britches', getting above him/herself', 'tickets on herself'. Familiar phrases to too many of us. Most of our parents did indeed do the best they could in that very difficult job of parenting. I am however, so very glad that we are learning that appreciation and praise are beneficial (while worrying that the pendulum may have swung too far in some cases). Thank you.

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  64. Its important to instil responsibility in a child. So when they finish college and get good grades theres something to look forward to.

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    1. Spacer Guy: Responsibility is indeed important - regardless of the child's path in life, but it is not the only thing we need. Not by a long way.

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  65. Reading your post and all the comments has brought back memories and made me think about praise and criticism when I should be working - so many sad stories and so many opportunities to learn. I'm greatly saddened to hear that you weren't praised as a child EC, now I'm imagining myself being with you when you were little and praising you for all kinds of achievements and kindnesses. I believe, strongly, in judicious praise. When with children, or when I was working with my students, I often praised the process more than the product. Saying things like 'wow, you worked so hard on that, how wonderful' (for several reasons). Although many people say we learn from our failures, I believe that most of us learn from our successes, and how can we do that if all we get is criticism. Someone I'm very close to feels the same way about affirmations as you do, she said they just make her head shout at her more loudly. She is kinder to others than she is to herself, and she's a truly beautiful person. I think you and her would understand each other well.

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    1. Kim: Your phrase 'judicious praise' summed it up beautifully. I firmly believe we all need it (regardless of age). Praising the process is a great starting point. Thank you. And, as a PS, your friend's calendars will be heading my way on Monday. Thank you (and her).

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  66. Hi EC - I was lucky and raised by my parents ... but have learnt much from blogging friends on theirs and others' lives ... I was just very lucky to come from a loving family ... but praise and thanks are essential all through life - cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary Melton-Butcher: I agree with you - praise and thanks are indeed essentials. My family loved - but couldn't express it.

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  67. I like to be praised!!! My kids do that sometimes: “Well done, Mom!” when I am successful in figuring out something related to new technologies, for instance. : ) And it makes me feel good!

    As far as children are concerned, some people tend to overpraise them (their intelligence, for instance), thinking they are helping their confidence and development. Not necessarily so. Praise in moderation, yes. Praise for their effort, absolutely.

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    1. Caterina: I think most of us bask in honest praise. I agree with you wholeheartedly about praise for effort.

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  68. This was so thought provoking, that I read it and had to take a day to think about it before commenting.
    You make some very relevant points. Praise a child too much for simply participating and they don't learn to deal with life's disappointments when th e disappointments are smaller and manageable. Don't praise them enough and they grow up without healthy self esteem.
    I don't think I was praised much as a child (I'm from the the same generation as you Sue) because I'm uncomfortable with compliments or with being in the limelight.

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    1. Kalpana: Thank you. We seem to be quite similar. I would much rather fly under the radar, and while I like compliments they also make me VERY uncomfortable (and a tad disbelieving).

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  69. Wow! This is a deep topic, and an important one, and I believe the tings that happen when we were children set us up for life. I was the caregiver of an alcoholic mother, who was also clinically depressed, but on her good days, she was fiercely independent. So she made me want to be strong and independent too, but she very rarely praised me, nor did my dad, who left when I was 8. But when she committed suicide when I was just 17, I went through a sense of guilt. As a young person, who happened to be a Leo(lol) I loved being the center of attention, praised for singing in a band or doing something great at work, or in the Air Force, but once I got into my early 30's I found that I preferred to be incognito, and even more so now. I definitely don't want to do anything to bring attention to myself if I can help it. (lol) But I wonder how my life would have turned out had I been praised as kid. But we are who we are, right? Hugs, and thanks for such a thought-provoking post. RO

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    1. RO: My mother was also an alcoholic in her later years. And claimed independence, but relied on me quite a lot. I am so sorry that your mother's suicide caused you to feel guilt. Misplaced guilt. I also prefer to fly under the radar. Attention makes me uncomfortable (positive OR negative).
      Hugs to you too.

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  70. I think praise should be given, when good work has been done and I always say thank you. Even at the store I work at, a customer will say thank you to me, and I always thank them in return, for coming into the store.
    I have came a long way with my family. I have grown and healed a lot. They have "their" ways. I don't cry over it anymore, because it is them and has nothing to do with me. I send them love always and I am grateful.
    Big Hugs!

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    1. Magic Love Crow: I agree with you. Praise where where praise is due and thanks make the world a better place. I too have come a long way from my family. Unlike you, I am not always grateful.
      Hugs.

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  71. Never praised, never thanked and never said sorry to. That was the way it was. I reckon it messed us up even to this day. I have no children, my mother even interfered with that too. I strive to be good to my niece and nephew and my brother is good with praise now when it is due and like me makes an effort never to be like our mother was with us.

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    1. Rachel Phillips: Welcome and thank you. It was indeed the 'way it was' for too many of us. A damaging way which we try to leave behind.

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