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Praise, self praise & learning


Praise and self-praise promote learning. Praise from someone who cares about us is the most powerful reinforcement of behavior (See earlier article: Praise: A Powerful Parenting Tool). Self-praise is the most powerful form of praise. The two most powerful forms of influencing another’s behavior is to praise the behavior you wish to see and to model the behavior you wish to see. You praise your children’s behavior not only to influence their behavior, but to model an effective means of helping themselves have things the way they want. You praise yourself not only to help you notice and remember your own good work (it also feels good, so it generates a pay-off; everything we do we do for the pay-offs. The better you get at generating pay-offs, the more pay-offs you experience), but to model the behavior you wish to see in your children.

Change in behavior is the means of measuring learning. Interest, repetition and understanding facilitate learning. Interest enables repetition. Repetition promotes understanding. Understanding fosters interest. The higher the level of interest, the more willing to repeat. The higher the number of repetitions, the greater the understanding. As understanding grows, so grows the interest. Interest, understanding and repetition facilitate learning.


If there is something I find interesting, something I wish to know more about, something I wish to know how to do, the more able and willing I am to do/read/experience it (whatever the “it” may be) and repeat (a/k/a practice) it. [And here is where self-praise for each effort/repetition just makes it an eentsy bit (excuse the scientific terminology) easier to keep on keepin’ on; that is, doing it again (and again and again…).]


The more I do/practice (right practice) something, the better I get at it; the greater my understanding; the more facile (working, moving, or performing well and very easily; comprehended with ease) I become at whatever I’m repeating/practicing.


The greater understanding (and ability to do something better than I used to) I have of something (be it knowledge and/or skills), the more interest I have in learning more about it (whatever that “it” may be).

And the higher the level of interest, the more willing to repeat. The higher the number of repetitions, the greater the understanding. As understanding grows, so grows the interest. And on and on and on…learning, growing, and getting better at having things the way you want.


Modeling is the most powerful and subtle form of teaching/parenting (See earlier article: Mindfulness: Parenting & self care). Modeling praise of another, praise of yourself, and taking interest in and practicing/repeating something you wish to improve at and/or understand better is the most powerful means of encouraging and influencing your children to praise another, to praise themselves, and to take interest in practice/repeat something (it may not initially be something they have a high, if any, interest in learning).

The human body/nervous system is designed to learn. Learning has very high survival value (a/k/a “having things the way you want”). The way we treat ourselves and our children will either interfere with or enhance their abilities to learn. Treat yourself and your children with respect, recognition and appreciation (See earlier article: Self & Family Care: The Second Three) and you will enhance your children’s abilities to learn and to have things the way they want. Again, simple (few moving parts) but very demanding. And worth the trouble. See for yourself.

This article is denser than most.  I believe reading it more than once will increase your ability to use the ideas discussed above to enhance your parenting and self-care skills.  As well, nearly everything discussed on Dr. Neal’s Corner can be found in my books.


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