The Parental Duty of Lavishing Praise

10 Oct

This past week has been a brutally stressful week as far as parenting goes. Now we’re a couple of days into our next psycho-cycle, so if history is any indication, I think we’ll have a couple of months of relative peace – which, in this family, means crackling tension bubbling away under the surface of every single activity, meal, or conversation – but at least we’re not due for another eruption anytime soon.

During these couple days of post-eruption lull, I’ve been taking a refresher course (read: watching youtube videos) on parenting techniques specific to traumatized kids.  One point that all the experts agree on is finding positive things to praise your kid for. I agree with this in theory, but most of the examples I’ve come across are more suitable for kids under the age of six or so. Read this in a high, excited voice: “Oh, Little Johnny, I am so proud of you for walking all the way to the car and buckling yourself in all by yourself! You are getting so big and independent! What an amazing little boy you are!”

That kind of praise would not work well with my teenager. It would be received as sarcasm (because, make no mistake, it would be delivered as sarcasm – that is, after all, my love language). It would ignite hours of back-talk, slamming doors, stomping around the house and shoving people out of the way. It would not build his self-esteem or be an encouragement in any conceivable way.

Don’t get me wrong. I do look for positive things to point out. But I have to be very subtle about it. Very subtle. I have to speak his love language, which is grunting. I am learning. Some days I can praise him and instead of yelling at me, he grunts back. This is progress.

But there’s still something to be said for all that lavish, over-the-top, barely believable praise that I can’t use on my kid. So I’ve decided to use it on myself. Yes, that’s right. The remainder of this post is going to be my own list of ridiculously exuberant, praising self-talk. Feel free to repeat it aloud for your own benefit if you need a pick-me-up. Better yet, let’s all wander around proclaiming these things for all to hear. Maybe it’ll catch on and our spouses and kids will take up the chant!

“I am so proud of you for brushing your teeth without being asked this morning! You even brushed for a full minute. The way you take care of your own oral hygiene is an example that everyone should follow!”

“I am so proud of you for cleaning out and sorting through your email inbox! Look at all those neat little files where you stashed all that email clutter. Such amazing organizational skills! Such meticulous mail management! You deserve a medal!”

“I am so proud of you for getting almost all the things on your grocery list today. It’s not your fault that the store was out of your razor brand of choice. And it’s completely understandable that you didn’t want to walk aaaaallllll the way back through the store just to get lettuce when you noticed it was still on your list. Who needs lettuce anyway? You got almost everything else, and that near-thoroughness is commendable!”

“I am so proud of you for not punching anyone today! Considering how many annoying people are surrounding you at any given moment, you have displayed monumental self-restraint. I wish everyone around you would understand just how lucky they are to be in your illustrious presence!”

“I am so proud of you for your literary genius! Your wit is astoundingly sharp! Your depth of wisdom knows no end! You have perfected the balance of when to elaborate and when to be brief! Your overuse of exclamation points is in and of itself a humorous tool that you wield with perfection! And I am constantly amazed by your ability to respond with grace when your readers don’t get your humour!”

Ahhhh, that felt good. You should try it. Having trouble? Just let me know what you did today that is worthy of praise, and I’ll lay it on thick for you.


Posted by on October 10, 2012 in Humour, parenting


Tags: , , , , , , ,

19 responses to “The Parental Duty of Lavishing Praise

  1. Sandy

    October 10, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    I did not use my car horn when boxed in by two cars going 30 km/hr on Coronation Blvd., and I did not hit them with my car either. 🙂

    • Anita Neuman

      October 10, 2012 at 5:37 PM

      Such Herculean strength required to refrain from giving them what they so rightly deserved! Such a delicate display of diplomacy! Blessings and more blessings upon you!

  2. Nic

    October 10, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    I spent an undisclosed amount of time on my hair today and made the decision to stay home so I wouldn’t cause anyone to be jealous.

    • Anita Neuman

      October 10, 2012 at 5:38 PM

      You just give and give and give and give and give. There is no end to your sacrificial thoughtfulness!

  3. Pauline Bott

    October 10, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Well then,

    I answered the phone at Onward Willow, bagged carrots, sorted donations, attempted the wash( but the dryer was broken), listened to their stories ( some of which were winny), did 2 lessons in my New Creation series (virtue), invited Bethany over, made brownies for the teen boys tonight.

    And I’m not done yet!


    Looking forward to your take on that.

    • Anita Neuman

      October 10, 2012 at 5:43 PM

      Aw, Pauline, you’re not supposed to pick REAL stuff! That just makes the rest of us look bad. Even so, we genuflect before your gracious and grand gestures of generosity! Proverbs 31 was written about you and we shall henceforth address your husband as King Lemuel.

  4. Shelby Somers

    October 10, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    My 3 year old niece got completely naked and went potty all by herself while I was putting away the laundry. Then she used the bath mat to wipe herself. Then she apparently had some “residue” on her fingers so she proceeded to wash her hands in the toilet and “squirt” the water on the floor and bath mat to make the brown marks go away. She couldn’t reach the hand towel, so she wiped her toilet-water-and-poopy hands all over the cupboard doors under the sink, drying them off as she climbed up to sit (naked, remember) atop the lavatory in a try to wash her hands with actual soap….getting more poo on the counters and soap dispenser. Then and only then did she sweetly call out, “Auntie Shelby, please wipe my bum!” And I did. I wiped her bum and her back and her legs and her hands…..and scrubbed that sweet little girl and the bathroom until I was sure they both were germ free.

    There. Lay it on me, Baby! :o)

    • Anita Neuman

      October 10, 2012 at 6:36 PM

      You always make up such nice stories!

      Holy…cow! I’m not touching that – or you, or your niece, or your bathroom – with a 10-foot pole! Biting tongue (fingers)….too many inappropriate puns coming to mind…

  5. costcogirlmel

    October 10, 2012 at 6:46 PM

    I didn’t murder my mother-in-law.

    • Anita Neuman

      October 10, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      That right there is the pinnacle of a successful day! It is the standard by which all other days should be measured.

  6. Dawna

    October 10, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    Anita, you are hilarious. Thanks for the laughs. 🙂

  7. AaronCushing

    October 10, 2012 at 8:13 PM

    I dutifully read my sister’s blog, and almost didn’t make any snide comment.

    • Anita Neuman

      October 10, 2012 at 9:04 PM

      I dutifully approved my brother’s snide comment and didn’t edit it, even though I have the power to do so!

  8. Kathleen Wells

    October 11, 2012 at 10:52 AM


  9. Jcmmanuel

    October 11, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    “Some days I can praise him and instead of yelling at me, he grunts back. This is progress.” – I love it, and any good shrink (not to be confused with a shrunken head expert) would be proud of you 😉

    The rest of your blog sounds like you’re still in this “What I Like to Think They’re Thinking” mood which is funny. But I won’t go there again. Except of course that I’m doing a great job here of pimping up your blog with exquisite, aesthetically appealing, immaculate, delightful and always enchanting comments. (PS. Did I mention magnificent?)

    • Anita Neuman

      October 12, 2012 at 8:11 AM

      Always enchanting…sometimes dizzying…but definitely magnificent! 🙂

  10. stevieapples

    October 12, 2012 at 8:07 AM

    I didn’t mention any praiseworthy deeds because today involved sleeping till noon, then eating bread soldiers with soup while watching Key and Peele.

    Is restraint worthy of praise?

    Does that last sentence contradict itself?

    • Anita Neuman

      October 12, 2012 at 8:13 AM

      Restraint is definitely praise-worthy, contradictory or not! But not nearly as much as sleeping in until noon. Oh my word, I can only dream (until 7) of someday achieving such a stellar performance!


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