Being Proud vs. Having Respect

Diana Sterling, the author of "Parent As Coach" the text that I use when I teach my parenting course, once mentioned that it is way more effective when offering a teen a complement to use, "I really respect you for …X…" rather than the usual, "I am very proud of you." Because I trust her advice, I used it the next time my son did something I wanted to praise. The reaction I got was subtle but profound. I got a quiet thank you and a little later an, out-of-nowhere hug. I have been using it ever since.

It amazes me that ever though both of those phrases have the same intention behind them, they have such a different effect on the listener. The difference seems to stem from the implication of each phrase. "You make me so proud," is about how the listener’s behavior or accomplishment effects the speaker’s feelings. How it shines well on the speaker and his accomplishment of being a great parent. Other than any good feelings tor doing some thing to give the speaker good feelings, there is little in that statement for the listener.

"I respect you for …." on the other hand, is all about the listener. It is saying, "I truly acknowledge you and what you did or accomplished." Now that is something to really feel good about!

About the Author:

Jason Wittman, MPS has a private practice as a Life Coach specializing in working with parents of teenage boys and young adults ( http://TheParentsCoach.com ) He can be reached at jason@theparentscoach.com

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