For a long while now my boy has not liked being praised. This has become increasingly apparent as he has got older. He gets very cross when you say “well done” or “you’ve done really well”. This is more of an issue on some days than others. Occasionally you can get away with praising him, if you do it quick enough and then move on to talking about something else! On other days he can get very cross and hit out if you say “well done”. As a parent it is very difficult to learn to avoid praising your child! Obviously it is a natural response to congratulate them when they have done something well! It is quite sad at times not to be able to celebrate his achievements in the way that we’d like to.
Over time we have learnt to adopt a different strategy by using indirect praise. For example, if he gets dressed by himself without being asked I might say “that’s very helpful that you’re dressed already”, instead of “well done for getting dressed”. Or if he has read his book well I would say “your reading is getting so much better” rather than “you read that really well”. This seems to be more acceptable and he is able to cope better with this type of reaction.
Interestingly though I know that deep down he does like his achievements being recognised. However, praise can be seen as a demand to do well the next time and clearly this puts pressure on him which he is unable to deal with. Sometimes I try and show that I’m proud of him by just giving him a quick hug and refrain from saying anything. By doing this I know that he realises I’m proud of him but I haven’t put any pressure on him by vocalising my feelings. However on some days he’s not keen on hugs either! It’s all about recognising what type of day he is having and what he is able to deal with at a particular time.
Recently he told his school teachers that he doesn’t like being praised and so they too are adopting different strategies to support this. This must be as difficult for teachers to adapt to as it is for us, as it would be only natural to praise a pupil for their achievements! I am really pleased that my boy recognises his dislike of praise as a trigger and can now communicate this issue to others. At least this enables people to gain a greater understanding of the way he reacts to certain situations.