Praise a youth and she will come.

Note: This proverb was coined many centuries before Dr. Benjamin Spock offered similar advice. Spock advised parents to encourage their children to behave, not to beat them. However, according to the Old Testament, Proverbs, 13:24, “An té a choigleann an tslat, fuathaíonn a mhac; an té a bhíonn fial ag ceartú, bíonn grá aige dó.” (He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him, takes care to chastise him.) One can express this Biblical sentiment with a common, ridiculing retort to the above seanfhocal:

Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí.

Bual sa tóin í agus titfidh sí.

In less poetic English, “Praise the youth and she will come. Kick her in the butt and she will fall.”

Note also: The pronoun ‘sí’ in this proverb refers, of course, to the noun ‘óige.’ This noun is feminine for no semantic reason. A ‘youth’ in Irish is not necessarily female. However, the feminine pronoun ‘sí’ is required here to agree with the feminine noun. Agreement is one of the grammatical reasons it is a good idea to memorize the gender of Irish nouns when learning them.