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.
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.
- 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!