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Could Compliments Calm Curmudgeons?

Could Compliments Calm Curmudgeons?

by Leigh Ann Otte

Do you know some elderly people—perhaps your own parents—who are just plain argumentative or curmudgeonly?

The author of the Help! Aging Parents blog—a counselor who identifies herself as Susan—has an interesting theory about this. Maybe sometimes, they’re negative in part because they rarely hear anything positive themselves.

In a post about arguing effectively with elderly parents, Susan casually inserts this thought:

It seems to me that as people get older (another generalization and I’m well aware generalizations don’t apply to everyone), they get less compliments (once called “strokes”) and thus the less ego-gratification….meaning their egos may be more fragile. And they become more sensitive to imagined slights and criticism. It’s easy to see how living alone can contribute.

What do you think? Could compliments play a role in helping an argumentative elderly parent get out of a rut?

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