Praise and effect!

When I was a little girl I found PE very difficult. I was little and thin, but not naturally athletic. I was a bit scared of hurting myself, so I didn’t just go for it, I held back. The problem was compounded when I was at Brownies when I was seven. Brownies was held at our school, and during a game which involved running, I tripped and slid on the gravel on the newly laid tarmac playground. The graze started at my hairline and ran down my nose and chin, and ended at my neck. I knew then that I would never win a race at Sports Day, because I was never going to run so quickly again.

Fast forward a couple of years to a PE session in the school hall. I dreaded these lessons, and given the choice would rather have curled up in a corner with a book. On that particular day, we were told to climb halfway up the wall bars, and then make ourselves a small as possible. I was stunned and delighted when the teacher told the class that the only person who had made themselves really small was me, and she asked me to climb again and show everyone how it should be done. Perhaps she’d just done a course on the effect of praise on young children. Perhaps I really had done better than everyone else. Whatever the reason, my confidence was boosted, and I started to look forward to the work we did on the wall bars. 

When I was ten, in an art class, my teacher told me that the smoke I had painted coming out of the chimney on the house I was painting was so realistic he could almost smell it. He mentioned the colours, and the way the smoke curled up to the sky. I was no artist, but his comments gave me a lift, and encouraged me to practice my drawing and painting.

As a teenager, having passed my NNEB, and working in a Dr Barnardo’s home, I was absolutely delighted to be made group mother of Heather Nursery. There were six new Staff Nurses, and four nurseries, so two girls were going to float between the nurseries, to cover days off or sick leave. I’d never expected to be lucky enough to have my own nursery. Mrs L., the superintendent of the home, said she felt that I was calm and motherly, just what the children needed. That was an enormous boost to my confidence, and I think I blossomed that year.

Over the years, I’ve received praise from time to time, at work, or from social workers. I realised I always tried extra hard in any task if I knew that someone thought that I was good at something. Now I’m practically retired – well ok, I am retired, and I do a few hours cleaning to supplement my pension, I’ve stopped needing praise. I do my best, I don’t skimp on cleaning or cut corners, I like to be fair and earn my money honestly.

This morning we got back home, and I received a text from the lady whose house we had cleaned:

“Just got home. Oh my goodness, I wish you would both move in with me!!!”

Guess whose house will be even better next time?



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