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The balancing act of praising – too little or too much?

It´s our job as parents to guide, teach and advise our children, and it´s a balancing act of telling them what NOT to do, NOT to say, NOT to be and praising them for what they have done and have said. I think we get so caught up teaching and warning them, that most often we forget to praise our children for just who they ARE.

Praise is a touchy subject for many parents, and it is for me too. Praise is my number one love language, and I realize this is because I haven´t been praised enough as a child. A few of us have been.

I live in a country (Finland) where praise is quite hard to get and pride down right stinks (this is a proverb here). People are quite modest and prefer shame over pride. Even if you do praise people, they tend to reject the praise. It´s hard work lifting people up, if they put themselves down!

If someone is genuinely happy for something they´ve accomplished, people here seem to struggle being happy for them, since they don´t know how to be genuinely happy for themselves in the same situation either. It´s easier to criticize and put them down, because that´s what they do to themselves too! It´s a cycle that I would love to see break. We can start to lift ourselves and especially our children up, if we become fluent in the language of praise.

Don´t get me wrong, I´m not suggesting we start praising everyone for no reason – that´s fake and will sound fake. We don´t want to blow up egos and have a generation of narcissistic children. Like I said, it´s a balancing act, that I believe we can master after the praise is free of expectation for both parties. Don´t put your children on a pedestal, because they will fall, but maybe be aware of the situations when the praise would come from your heart and would fit in the situation naturally. Ask yourself:

Is it hard for you to give praise or get praise?

Do you think it´s ok to praise people for who they are or do they always need to do something to be entitled to praise?

Who in your family needs praising the most?

Would it be the one who is loud and clearly begging to be noticed or the one that is silent and humble and asks for nothing?

I say we all need praise. We all need lifting up. If you lift a person up instead of being indifferent or putting them down, you will earn a place in their heart. I bet you haven´t forgotten the person who always praised you. Who was it or who is it? My grandmother used to praise me all the time. Her words I cherish and still hear in my head, even though she has passed. To date, she is one of the few people that have said to me: “You´re a good mother.” Since being a mother is what I mostly am and do, these are powerful words for me.

I am quite strict at home, I have to be, being the only adult around. I keep my children grounded in the reality that we are all imperfect and flawed. I set boundaries and push them to be and do more, but I also praise them every day, sometimes for what they do, but mostly for who they are. This love language goes a long way in my family. It doesn´t take long and doesn´t cost a penny.

Examples of the language of praise

Read these out to yourself first – praise yourself! Which sentence strikes a special chord with you? Then who comes to mind? Who could you praise today and what would you say to them?

I am grateful to have you in my life
I’m proud of you
Your words mean a lot to me
You have some great ideas
I love being with you
You are perfect
Your opinions matter
You are important to me
You’re loved
I believe in you
I believe you
You are an important part of this family
You’re precious
I know you did your best
You’re so helpful
You are worth it
You make me happy
I love your creativity
It’s fun to be with you
Tell me, I’d love to listen
Always be you
You are so interesting
You’re wonderfully curious
Your friends are lucky to have you
I trust you
That´s a really good choice
Seeing you makes me happy
I learn something from you every day
You make me a better person
I understand you
You’re really brave
It´s wonderful to see you grow
You’re really good at that
You are beautiful inside and out
You noticed something nobody else noticed

Words have power. Use that power.

In this Babyjoy blog I write about the things that I see, feel and do. You are free to disagree, do not read anything as gospel. I write to clear my head and make sense of this world, and I hope my writings make you think and move you in one way or the other. Thank you for reading! Tara XX

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