Polar Bear came home last week in a right mood. He was grumpy and didn’t want to talk to anyone. Took a while (as it does) to find out why he was in such a bad mood. It was because he’d won ‘Writer of the Week’ award at school for writing the best recount of his residential trip.
As those of you with PDA children might know, PDA kids (and adults) don’t like being praised for doing things. Some kids do but most don’t. This is usually a combination of low self-esteem, a dislike for perceived false praise, being the centre of attention, not wanting the pressure of having to repeat what caused the praise (it can be seen as a demand) and/or not knowing how to respond to praise.
Some children (and adults) may refuse to perform simply to avoid said praise and others may destroy or dismiss any achievements because of this too.
This is a problem for me. I have in the past stopped working on projects because someone praised or said something positive about it. I wore a hairband today and my partner said it looked good on me, I felt the urge to rip the thing from my head and stamp on it. I didn’t, but the urge was there and was quite strong.
It can be difficult for parents and family to understand why someone would do this. Most people take pride in their actions and love getting praised for them. So much so that some people will do almost anything for praise. So it can be baffling for them to experience such negativity around positive reinforcement.
Some PDA people find it easier to accept small amounts of praise such as ‘very good’ rather than ‘that’s brilliant, well done’. Some parents find complementing their child to another person but where the child can hear, as opposed to directly at them, easier to accept. Even something simple such as placing a ‘well done’ sticker on something the child has made without mentioning it to the child is more welcomed. For others, even this form of praise can be too much.
It isn’t surprising that if praise causes anxiety then the PDA person will avoid that praise by neglecting to admit that anything praiseworthy exists or even, like Polar Bear, pretending things are ‘bad’ so as to avoid praise.
Recently he has become quite ‘house proud’ and will spend a good amount of time tidying, hovering and cleaning his room. You can tell when he doesn’t want praise though as he’ll refuse anyone access to his room saying ‘don’t go into my room it’s a mess’.
Such is the way of PDA.