Q: We’re accustomed to our seven-year-old daughter’s difficulty accepting praise, but her recent reaction was the worst yet. When we told her how proud we were when she was chosen to read the morning announcements at school, she got very angry, yelled at us to stop talking about it and began to cry. My husband says these “moments” are normal. Is he right?
A: Sometimes kids cannot accept praise because they are struggling to see themselves positively and praise seems contrary to their negative ideas about themselves. Your daughter needs help to see herself in a better light — and this, in turn, will help to increase her self-esteem. So don’t be discouraged by her reactions and keep praising your daughter. But be sure to compliment her for the good qualities of her character as well as her accomplishments. You want her to feel you appreciate her as a whole person and not only for the things she does.
Reading the morning announcements at school is a daunting task for even the most outgoing seven-year-old, and perhaps your daughter took it on not because she wanted to, but rather to please you. She may feel that you don’t appreciate how anxious it made her, and her anger may be a reaction to that. Or it could be that she imagines she will need to contend with more of the same anxiety if she wants your approval in the future. Tell her you suspect the job was very difficult for her and let her know you love her regardless of her achievements.