Can We Praise Our Children Too Much?

Blog Categories

The power of positive parenting is amazing and parents who grew up with little praise understand that children respond better to positive encouragement than they do to reprisals or the promise of punishment. But sometimes, praising your kids becomes such a habit that we tend to overdo it.

“Somehow, parents have come to believe that by praising their kids they improve their self-esteem,” Paul Donahue, PhD, founder and director of Child Development Associates, says. “Though well-intentioned, putting kids on a pedestal at an early age can actually hinder their growth.”

It’s ok to lose

Sometimes you need to praise the process rather than the outcome. If your child’s baseball team lost, but they went to every practice and tried their little hearts out, then you should praise their resilience, their tenacity and their effort. But take care not to pretend that they didn’t lose. Losing is part of life and they have to learn to deal with the disappointments.

Teach self-motivation

When you over-praise, your kids lose the value of a positive word from mom or dad and the good feeling that comes with achieving something noteworthy. This will mean that you will have to find other ways to motivate your child. Some parents here turn to cash or material incentives but, warns Jenn Berman, PhD, a marriage and family therapist and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy and Confident Kids this will lead to kids who can’t self-motivate: “I believe that we want children who are self-motivated. If you tell your daughter, ‘If you get an A on the test I’ll give you $5,’ then you are creating a situation in which your child is motivated by money, not by the positive feelings of success.”

Steps to proper praise

Each child and situation is unique and as their parents, you know best how and when to praise, but the experts do agree on a few pointers:

Be genuine: Focus on praising when you are sincerely impressed. If words like ‘good job’ and ‘that was great’ pepper your every sentence, it may be time to cut back.

Be specific: Pick out the exact things that you thought they tried really hard at and praise those for example, instead of saying “You are great at science” try “I was really impressed by the work you put into your science project. I know the other kids didn’t do their share so you had to work a little harder and you did a great job of managing your team.”

Say it like you mean it: To praise your children’s every action, even when you aren’t impressed, is to reduce the value of their efforts, so choose wisely.

Praise younger children more: In a study of 24-month old children (Kelley et al 2000), researchers recorded how mothers responded to their toddlers while they attempted a challenging task. A year later the same families were invited back and kids were tested again. Researchers found that the 36-month old kids who were most likely to take on new challenges were the ones whose mothers had praised them more.

More Posts Like This
  • Back to School Organization Hacks to Simplify Your Life

    With back to school right around the corner, it’s a great time to get prepared! Tutor Doctor has some awesome organization hacks to simplify your life.

    Read More
  • Everything You Need to Know About the FAFSA

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more commonly known as the FAFSA, is a valuable resource for both current and soon-to-be college students. Filling out this form is an important part of the college process, even if you don’t think you will qualify for federal aid. Here’s everything you need to know about the FAFSA!

    Read More
  • Are Your Children Too Reliant on Technology?

    Technology can be an incredibly valuable resource for students to expand their knowledge and interests. However, with modern technology all around us, it’s also easy for kids to become overly dependent on these resources – especially if they have grown up with them their entire lives. Are your children too reliant on technology?

    Read More