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Why Praising Our Kids is So Important

Posted by Toni Vitanza

My last blog posting included a list of “15 Things I Want To Do With My Son Before He Is 16”. So, as you can guess, I am a member of that breed known as Listmakers. The story I want to share with you in this posting has stayed in my computer desktop-diary for a few years. But it’s worth sharing, I’ve been told. It makes the point about how important it is to praise our children, and also about how closely our children are listening to us, always.

One night, I was working as the flight attendant on a short flight and had a few spare moments sitting in my jumpseat. My son’s birthday was coming up — I think it was his 11th — and I decided to very quickly use the back of the flight manifest to make a list of “The Top 20 Things I Like About You.” I planned on putting it inside his birthday card. I ended up with 22 things (Number 22: “Because you’re MY kid!”) before I had to unbuckle and get up and go to work! I didn’t get it typed up in time to put in his birthday card. Instead, I made it into an email. (I figured it would be easier for him to refer back to it when he needed a boost, since he is on the computer so often and, like a typical boy, unlikely to hold on to some ephemeral piece of paper.) I didn’t write any little intro, just emailed it to him and never mentioned it again. I was never really sure he even got it. I got busy with things and, truly, did not think of it again. He didn’t mention it, either. Then one night, a couple of months after that flight, the three of us were sitting in our living room eating dinner. You have to understand that my son is a fabulous eater, a real joy to feed; he will try anything and loves everything, and even got a waiter to take him into the kitchen once so he could see his dessert before ordering! And so, of course, that night he was eating the fairly exotic dish my husband had prepared with absolute gusto. I turned to him and said, “It is such a pleasure to eat with you. You really enjoy your food.”

And my son turned to me quietly and said, “I know, Mom. That was Number Five.”

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