Writing What I Know: Back to Praising My Childhood Roots

23 Jul

Blog Writer

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about my writer’s block:  Writing is More Than Getting the Words Right.  My mind and heart were filled with knots that entangled my ability to express myself.

Today, I listened to a TED Talk by Sting.  Its title was very attractive to me:

How I Started Writing Songs Again

This 16 time Grammy Award winner, who has written hundreds of songs and sold more than 100 million albums, found himself stuck in years of writer’s block.  But, when he retraced his childhood roots in the shipyards of northeast England, his songwriting inspiration returned.  In fact, he remarked,

“As soon as I decided to honor the community I came from to tell their story, the songs started to come thick and fast.”

So, Sting sought stories of the shipyard workers from his youth and his missing imagination was restored.

In my own desperate attempt to recover my missing motivation, my mind wandered back in time to my childhood roots.

When I was 4, the joy of kindergarten filled my days with bliss.  I loved the model of old-fashioned kindergarten, back in the days when kids didn’t attend preschool.  Finger painting, playing house, singing songs and napping after a snack of graham crackers and milk was sheer joy. Academics weren’t pushed on young kids in those days.  It was assumed that reading, writing and arithmetic would all be learned in due time.

And they were.

During my kindergarten year, our neighbor, complimented me on one of my painting productions.  To this very day, I can recall the words of Mrs. Price, “Cate, you have an excellent sense of color.”

In those days, praise was meted out very sincerely and carefully.


Mrs. Price was an artist.  She created oil paintings of flowers in vases, among other subjects.  She used intense colors, yellow, orange, red.

When my mom passed away, I chose the painting Mrs. Price gave to my mother in the 60’s.  It was a vase filled with vibrant blossoms in orange, yellow and red.

To this day, the colorful canvas hangs in my living room.  It was my inspiration for decorating the space. It represents the artist who recognized the artist in me.

I’m not a painter.

But, colors are my passion.

Just gazing at beautiful colors inspires me.

So, this leads me to the power of words and compliments.  As a child during the 60’s, praise was bestowed infrequently.

Today, our kids are growing up in a world of praise pollution.  It seems we praise them at every turn for every imaginable accomplishment. Guess what?  It isn’t helping their self-esteem.

It’s as if every one of their actions are graded.

Henderlong and Lepper analyzed 30 years of praise research and found these important guidelines:

  • Sincere and specific praise is best.
  • Kids should only be praised for characteristics they are able to change.
  • Use descriptive praise that conveys realistic, attainable standards.
  • Praising kids about accomplishments that come easily needn’t be a focus.
  • It is not very important to praise kids for engaging in activities they love.
  • Best to encourage kids to pursue their personal best, rather than comparing themselves to peers.


Returning to my childhood roots reconnected me with a hidden part of myself, the colorful place in my heart that never grows tired of the cornucopia of colorful creation surrounding me.

Mrs. Price’s comment permanently and positively impacted me.

Today, I recognize the praise given to me as a kindergartener by my childhood artist neighbor.

Thank you, Mrs. Price.  You have reminded me of the power of praise when awarded appropriately.  You also enabled me to find my missing muse.

I am looking forward to praising less and listening more.  I believe that our parental instincts know when we need to acknowledge our children. Let’s go back to our roots and remember the permanent impact of accolades acquired during our childhood days.

Let’s clear the air of excessive praise so that our children can clearly see the acknowledgement of attributes that will stay with them when they are old enough to go back to their own childhood roots.

The memories may inspire them to greatness, having a clear sense of self.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Cate Pane


4 Responses to “Writing What I Know: Back to Praising My Childhood Roots”

  1. Less to More July 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    Interesting. As children get older though, don’t you think that parents (generally speaking) lean towards more criticism than praise? Just curious what your thoughts are. Good piece! Really made me think about my interactions with my kids.

    • Cate Pane: The Clear Parent July 24, 2014 at 6:08 am #

      Yes, I do believe that parents criticize their children more as they grow into the teenage years. This is very problematic, as well! Perhaps, the answer lies in less inappropriate praising and excessive criticism. Criticism is so very damaging! This is a topic for a different post. Thank you so very much for your input! Cate

  2. Annette Harrison July 24, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

    We are living in a praise population and its hard to know if someone is truly sincere about their compliment. Great post, Cate! And I sincerely mean great post [smiles].

    • Cate Pane: The Clear Parent July 25, 2014 at 9:23 am #

      Thanks, Annette! We are on the same page about “praise pollution!” When I give a compliment, it “feels right” because it is inspired. The compliments I give to you are sincere! Have a great Friday! Best, Cate

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,315 other followers

%d bloggers like this: