Just say, thank you…
Why we need to role model accepting praise with a simple but powerful ‘thank you ‘

What do you do when someone tells you something nice or offers you praise?
● That dress looks good on you…
● Wow you did a great job with that project…
● Your kids are so well behaved…
● Your house is so lovely… etc.

Most of us reject it!
● That dress looks good on you… Oh this old thing!
● Wow you did a great job with that project…it was nothing, I didn’t do much
● Your kids are so well behaved…most of the time they are a pain!
● Your house is so lovely…ohh it is a mess!

So why do we reject praise or nice words?
● Not used to it: maybe you didn’t get a lot of it in your childhood, so you are not used to it and find it hard to take on board, even weird.
● We think we are not worth it: we doubt ourselves and our self-worth, so praise is in contradiction with how we feel about ourselves, so actually we don’t believe it… the words you hear don’t match up with how you feel about yourself. This is the case for most people and why we feel so uncomfortable when receiving praise, we just don’t get it.
● Social norm: I don’t know why, but rejecting compliments is a social thing, something that we are taught to do, that is even socially expected. We might actually like the praise and even agree with it, but we have learned from social cues that we don’t show or say that. We should not have too big a head! Think too much of ourselves. Think we are better than others. But accepting praise has nothing to do with that. You are just accepting and taking what is yours…
● Makes you cringe because you feel it sounds wrong or insincere: that might be true, I don’t know. Maybe the person in front of you didn’t actually mean it but it is just an add on to the conversation. Or worse, they say it to really make you feel uncomfortable. In that case, say thank you and see it for what it is, part of a conversation, and move on.. don’t dwell on it too long.
But when we reject praise, we actually prolong the agony because the giver will then have to try to convince you… ‘no really, you look AMAZING!’ and give you lots more attention!

How can we get used to praise:
● When you receive praise or kind words, STOP and take a deep breath and count to three before you do or say anything. This helps you to think about what you hear, how you feel about it but most importantly gives you time to think about how you will respond.
Self-praise – praise yourself, and even out loud: this is going to be hard, but if you don’t believe in yourself no one does! So try as often as you can to say something nice to yourself, even better out loud so others can hear it: ‘I made a lovely dinner tonight’, or ‘I did a great job cutting the grass’, or ‘I think this tie looks like on me’, or ‘I am proud of the way I raised this family’. This will help you get used to nice words about yourself and over time you will start believing it and feel more comfortable receiving it from others.
Write a praise journal where each day you add three things (or more) that you are proud of about you: I made a nice dinner, I had fun with my kids, I think I look nice with my new hair, I hosted a good meeting today etc. Again it is all about boosting your self worth and telling yourself that you are worth all the praise you can get.
● After you have accepted the praise, you can send a compliment back: this way you don’t feel that the attention rests on you, plus you make someone else happy.
Use the below phrases instead of rejecting praise to give a positive acknowledgement

Try saying:
● That dress looks good on you…oh thank you that means a lot to me!
● Wow you did a great job with that project…I am glad that you appreciated what I did
● Your kids are so well behaved…I am so happy to have them and yes most of the time they are heaps of fun
● Your house is so lovely…thank you, I work hard to make it nice.

Why it’s important to learn to accept praise:
● Role model for your kids: we are our kids’ biggest role models and if they see and hear us put ourselves down and reject praise and compliments then they think it is the way forward. They might start thinking that we don’t deserve it and start adopting this method when THEY receive it – think it’s not true, not nice or not OK to accept praise. So show them that it is nice to receive kind words and praise. We should soak it up, take it personally and accept it, in a grateful way. My dad once told me ‘I love the way your kids are ok with compliments and instead of contradicting it just say ‘thank you’. I even remember my middle son once replying when my dad told him that he was good at table tennis ‘I know!’
● Makes you feel good and boosts your self-worth: so we have agreed the more you let positive words get inside your head the more you start believing it and feeling that way. Our mind is a little computer that believes what we feed it, so when we start feeding it nice things it will store those positives.
● Create a positive communication and relationship with the person in front of you: to be honest, I think we can all agree that it is super annoying when you offer a compliment to someone, and they just reject it. You have to work so hard to convince them and it gets tiresome. So, create a safe and comfortable connection and conversation by using the above tips. The receiver might at first be surprised since they are so used to their praise being rejected but then we can move on and talk about something else.

So love like, love and accept yourself by accepting compliments and praise from others.

Best wishes Mette Theilmann, Director of Predictable Parenting & Founder of the Parenting Community App