Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pour On The Praise!

I spend my days at work praising art work. Have you seen the poster, "100 ways to praise a child"? Well, I think I've come up with "7 million ways to praise art work". Poster due out soon.

I got so bored of hearing myself repeat, "great job!", "love it!" and "how creative!" all day long, so I had to expand my praise phrases.

Two of my favorites are the ever-versatile "Wow--would you look at that!" Really, that covers all the bases. My second favorite is, "Great use of the smudge technique!" I love that one because it cracks me up. I mean, what is a "smudge technique"?!

Anyway, something I've noticed about compliments is that my kindergarteners eat them up; they can't get enough. It's annoying, because they are always shoving papers under my nose wanting me to gush. It's exhausting.

First and second graders love flattery, too. By third grade, they like it, but don't show it as much.

By fourth and fifth grade, it's not too cool to have your teacher publicly tell you she thinks your art work is brilliant. They visibly flinch when I tell them a simple, "nice job". I tend to praise my fourth and fifth graders less because of their reaction, although I know they must like to hear it, just not in front of their peers.

Which brings me to adults. Adults don't pay tribute to other adults very often, it seems. Yet it is nice to hear. For instance, my friend from high school dedicated a whole blog post to little ole me and I was ecstatic! I called Jeff over and read it to him and I re-read it for Alex and Jami and I was smiling the whole time.

Even Jeff, who is really the most self-assured and together person I know (I want to be just like him when I grow up), enjoys a shout-out now and again.
My dad visited our house-in-progress the other day, and, according to Jeff, just gushed (although I don't see my dad as a gusher) about Jeff's carpentry. A couple other people stopped by last week and did the same, and Jeff was happy about it... you could tell it made him feel good.

So I've been doing an "experiment", I guess, where I try to compliment more adults throughout the day. I don't want to just toss out cheesy compliments, so I make sure it's something I really feel, but normally, for whatever reason, wouldn't say.

I told a well-dressed teacher that I liked her sweater, but then I went a step further and told her how I think she is super-stylish. She gave me a very genuine thank you and I think (hope) I made her happy.
I threw out some other sincere compliments this week and it was fun! I felt like the flattery fairy.

The only down-side was that after working my 4 hours, I was in severe sugar-shock from all the sweetness. Ugh...being sweet is exhausting. Probably why I don't really go that route very often.

So, to wrap it up, I think we over-praise young children (example: great use of smudge...really?!) and we don't compliment the adults in our life enough.
Do with it what you will... just an observation.

1 comment:

  1. I think you're right. I feel like everything my two year old does gets a "hey, great job!" And nothing my mom does gets a hey, great job, Grandma!"

    I have to pay it forward more.


Other's musings...