This question came up because of a troubled young man that is learning Karate from Wade. Wade and I were talking about this boy, a bully who presently is using his Karate mostly to learn be a better bully...Not a good thing at all.

It suddenly occurred to both of us that the boy is in deep pain. He must be; I have been learning about rage, and the trouble that it can cause in one's life. I made the connection between my rage, and how I have learned to vent it appropriately. Wade and I realized that "James" must be even more full of rage than me. I use a punching bag; "James" uses other boys to punch and kick. How horrible he must feel inside!

So we had a revelation: "James" feels so bad and angry inside that he has crossed a line somewhere, and it has become necessary for him to vent his rage directly at weaker boys. We want to help "James"; we realized that perhaps praise, simple praise, of his smallest good actions in Karate Class, might start turning him around....Our rationale is this: when "James" does his Karate punches and kicks, if he shows his anger, he should be encouraged to continue to vent his anger in this appropriate way.

We all like praise, I believe. I think it can be wonderful to be appreciated and encouraged. It is nice when we step out of our "comfort zones" and take risks, and people notice and back us up, and say, "Wow! That was great! Good for you!"

But the flip side is a little dark.

We cannot live for praise. We have to mostly learn to praise ourselves, and to not expect praise for every thing we do right.

Remember, I ask this because poor "James" has a terrible, terrible home life. I know this because I sat down and listened to him talk, and he described such loneliness and neglect that I now know why he has turned to the dark side. Wade and I want to help.

What do you think about the subject of praise? So...Where do we draw that line? When is it right to praise? When is it right to be happy about praise? Or is it right at all?

Thanks in advance,

Jai (and Wade)

asked 15 Feb '12, 00:59

Jaianniah's gravatar image


edited 15 Feb '12, 01:10

Someone needs to take a look at the child's home.

(15 Feb '12, 09:22) The Prophet

You don't want to increase the ego with praise.

(15 Feb '12, 10:34) The Prophet

@Jai Glad you & Wade liked my answer. I'm marking this favorite ? because I know someone whose life was changed/saved due to people like the 2 of you. His home life was one of abuse. The words his father spoke were worse than the physical abuse he endured. Your dumb, you can't do anything right, you'll never amount to anything. His older brothers were not so fortunate; alcohol, drugs, jail & then death.

(17 Feb '12, 01:50) ele

continued... Wish I could recall exactly what the man said to him that day - something about how strong he was & how he used his head (sharp) & could use a fellow like him - yes, they were words of praise. I thought about him when I read your question & just realized it did start with words of praise AND thanks to this man who offered him a part time job when he was a teen & along with his wife, built up his confidence & showed him he could succeed & be anything he wanted to be.

(17 Feb '12, 01:52) ele

continued He owns his own business, travels the world & has a wonderful family. If you & Wade have the power to change one life - do it!

(17 Feb '12, 01:53) ele

Prophet Praise means to warmly appreciate & ego has more than one meaning - in this case it means appropriate pride in oneself; a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance - to build up his confidence & yes, someone should look at his home.

(17 Feb '12, 01:57) ele

@ele - Wow! Great story..I cannot wait to show Wade your comments...We DO want to save this young man, and turn him into a new person....Thanks for the vote of confidence...Love you, Jai

(17 Feb '12, 03:40) Jaianniah

@Jaianniah I'll have to ask him again. I know he always says it was the best 2 years of his life & his turning point. Love you too, ele

(17 Feb '12, 05:22) ele
showing 1 of 8 show 7 more comments

Bless your hearts! You're right; it's all about building up his self esteem. Perhaps, the only time anyone pays attention to him is when he does something wrong & negative attention is still attention. Is there violence in the home? Most bullies are victims first. This combined with fear & pain is often the starting point & the bully persona emerges. Praise is a starting point; but be careful. Most experts would advise not too & there have been numerous articles written regarding this subject. For the most part I tend to agree with the research; but each child is unique ; what may harm one child; benefits another.. IMO, in these circumstances, I disagree with the experts --- I think this child needs to hear words of praise. Your words of Praise will Lift him Up.

You are already doing the right thing by engaging him in conversation & he's beginning to open up to you. Your building trust & "trust" will be a challenge for the three of you. Keep asking questions. Just listen to him; show compassion; but do NOT judge & do NOT tell him he is wrong or what he should have done. Tell him when he's doing something "right". Acknowledge good actions/behavior - let him know; encourage it/him. If he behaves in a negative way - do not react and do not criticize.

I don't remember my parents ever praising me. They built my self esteem through unconditional love, encouragement, support, appreciation & expectation. This kid needs love more than praise, more than anything. What about a hug? Will he allow you to touch him? You might have to go slow - only touching his hand at first. Wade should pat him on his back & do it often, if he allows it.. He can put his arm around his shoulder & the longer he will allow you and Wade to do this; the more he will trust & heal. You already know about all the positive health benefits from a hug by now; but did you know the average hug is only 2 seconds in duration - strive for 20 to 30 seconds. A hug benefits the hug-er and the hug-ee equally. He needs to know what loving touch & a heartfelt hug feels like. Good Luck.... You have the opportunity to change his life.... Listen to your heart & you will know what is best.


answered 16 Feb '12, 11:55

ele's gravatar image



You smashed all records with this answer! It is perfect, IMHO! The only thing that I am not sure about is the hugs...Wade is a professional...He may not be allowed to do this...He and I will chat about it with his boss...It is a great point. You obviously resonated with "James". I, too, never received praise, so this question was VERY important to me. Thank you! Jai

(16 Feb '12, 12:01) Jaianniah

Thank you. Perhaps it should be part of the curriculum. Wade doesn't have to single this young man out; they/we all need a hug from time to time.

(16 Feb '12, 12:16) ele

yes, a tender hug can do wonders :)

(17 Feb '12, 03:47) blubird two

cyber hug......

(17 Feb '12, 05:23) ele
showing 2 of 4 show 2 more comments

well if he bully other you need to show him the way so that he use is strenght to protect himself and other in balence and harmony. then praise will come naturally. you cannot praise someone for no good reason that is called hypocrisy. and one should not need to be praise to do the right thing it should come of his own accord. experience and enjoy.


answered 15 Feb '12, 01:08

white%20tiger's gravatar image

white tiger


Thank you, white tiger. You raise some good points!

(15 Feb '12, 01:12) Jaianniah

Yes tiger, hypocrisy is the right word... doing right has it's own reward.

(15 Feb '12, 10:38) The Prophet

Praise (when due) is necessary in all situations; especially if a person is suffering from "low self-esteem." Many psychological states in life consists of low self-esteem showing up as rage, jealously, resentments... Praise is a stepping stone to build good "self-esteem and a good feeling of well being." weaving through the psychic of a person; as an aid to improvement.


answered 15 Feb '12, 07:08

Sophi's gravatar image



@Sophi - "praise when due" i like it ... we are doing this whenever we give points here on IQ and it is beneficial for both the giver and the receiver ... it can be useful for "feeling" boundaries :)

(15 Feb '12, 07:16) blubird two

@Sophi - A very, very wonderful and concise answer...Thank you so much. You did a good job of simply explaining when praise is appropriate! <3

(15 Feb '12, 10:49) Jaianniah

@ele - point taken ouch :)

(17 Feb '12, 03:45) blubird two

@blubird two - no, I'd never wish you pain.

(17 Feb '12, 04:44) ele
showing 2 of 4 show 2 more comments

That's tricky.. not sure what I would do in that situation.

I don't think praise will solve a lot, but I think its a good step. I think I would try to find qualities that I liked in him... and encourage and praise him in those areas. As for the negative aspects, I would try to reason or talk with him... but start slow. Like, gentle pushes in the right direction, and hopefully he will follow. But I would only praise the things I agreed with... even if it makes him feel good, he's still got a lot of issues regarding his parents and that will probably bear pretty hard on him.

Maybe get him a punching bag and have him 'practice' on it for ten to fifteen minutes as a part of his session? (If he doesn't already use one) Maybe it will help him release some of his pains and frustrations like it does for you.

Good luck!!


answered 15 Feb '12, 01:17

LapisLazuli's gravatar image



Yes, you are right...we have already begun this process...We are hoping that Karate, applied correctly with the practice of Bushido and Honor, will change this poor boy's direction...He needs prayer! Thank you. <3

(15 Feb '12, 10:51) Jaianniah

Simple praise will only work if the person giving the praise is really sincere and giving it deep down from the bottom of his heart. If he is just giving praise for the sake of giving praise, then it is not difficult to see why it might sometimes backfire when the person you are praising realize it.


answered 15 Feb '12, 11:10

kakaboo's gravatar image


God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should 'nacham' (change His mind, repent, turn away from what He says He will do). Does he speak and then not 'asah' (act, accomplish, finish)? Does he promise and not 'quwm' (fulfill, make good, succeed in completing)? --Numbers 23:19

(16 Feb '12, 03:04) white tiger

Praise alone can be very dangerous...

Parents must clearly understand their roles in their child’s character development process.

To instill integrity in their child’s personality and values in their life, nothing is more effective than leading by example. Children will only be permanently impressed by their parent’s living loyalties: telling them what is good and what is bad is not enough, they must be led by their parent’s good example.

All of us who give our lives to see that our children and grandchildren have success in theirs, must give our loyalties ONLY to those philosophies, values and people who are clearly committed to making the home life and environment the cradle of civilization it has always been, and always will be.


answered 15 Feb '12, 09:13

The%20Prophet's gravatar image

The Prophet

This is so true! The problem with "James" is that he has no parents, per se...only a grandfather who could care less about him...whether he even has eaten or is clean. "James" runs loose while Grandpa sits all day, every day, watching televsison, especially sports...I would feel exactly like "James" if I was he. Wouldn't you? Thank you! <3

(15 Feb '12, 10:56) Jaianniah

Yes, Jai... but like most such complex relationships, don't let sympathy rule logic.

(16 Feb '12, 14:54) The Prophet

Prophet - Jai is talking about empathy & compassion; not sympathy.

(17 Feb '12, 02:02) ele

Don't let them rule logic either.

(17 Feb '12, 07:01) The Prophet
showing 2 of 4 show 2 more comments
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Asked: 15 Feb '12, 00:59

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Last updated: 17 Feb '12, 07:01

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