Praise Focuses On The Parent
Praise focuses on the parent and what they think. Berman, a family therapist, feels constant praise is belittling.
We have became 24/7 cheerleaders for our children. After awhile this rote repeating of praises, e.g “Good job.” or “I like”, may be perceived by the child as insincere. Worse the child may become dependent on praise and regard their work as being bad when it is not praised.
Encouraging the child builds self-confidence
The parent is hoping praise will build the child’s self-confidence. The goal is a clear and good one, but the method is wrong. Studies have shown encouraging the child does more to build self-confidence than excessive praise. Below is some tips on how to encourage the child with praise taking a less prominent role.
What does not encourage your child
- Do not offer a prize for behavior. “If you get on the honor role I will give you ten dollars” is wrong. The motivation becomes about money rather than succeeding in school. Celebrating is acceptable such as getting a treat for a good report card.
- “Good job”. While hitting a home run or doing well on a Science Project is worthy of recognition, over emphasizing outcomes may discourage the child from trying new activities where she may not succeed when first trying.
- Praising activities that didn’t require any effort.
- Praising things the child has no control over such as looks, intelligence, etc.
- Continually judging the child’s work even if it is positive. This may cause the child to stop evaluating his own work (or being creative) and become dependent on opinions of other people.
- Praising another child doing the same work and not her may make the child feel like her work isn’t good enough or she is a failure.
How to encourage your child
- Be specific: Rather than “nice picture”, state “You blended your colors to create purple-you must be proud of your work.” or “You are drawing details on your picture.”
- Praise the effort: “Good job” focuses on the outcome. While praising the child for putting in the effort-“You have worked hard on learning that.”- will encourage the child to try again whether he succeeds or not.
- Be nonjudgmental: Retire words such as “good” or “nice”. Instead of “You are so good at math”, state “You have learned your times tables.”
- Ask questions: “How do you feel about your grades?”
- Use “You” at the start of your comments and retire “I like”.
- Avoid comparing child to other children or adults.
- Praise is not always wrong. Use praise for occasions that merits it.
It will take time to develop the new habits and your children may be confused by why mom and dad aren’t acting like cheerleaders. Slowly change your behavior and reassure your children you love them.
“The Right Way to Praise Your Kids”, Heather Hatfield, WebMD
“What are the views and opinions of praise versus encouragement for young children?”
UNL Extension “Parenting: Don’t Praise Your Children!” , Jim Taylor, Ph.D., Psychology Today
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