Praise Focuses On The Parent
To be a positive parent, you don’t have to use excessive praise of your children. Excessive praise can actually do more harm than good. Studies have shown that when children are constantly praised for everything they do, they start to doubt their own abilities and feel less confident in themselves.
After a while, 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 bad when it is not praised.
Excessive praise focuses on the parent and what they think. It can make the child feel like they are not good enough or that they need to keep up the good work in order to please their parents. Berman, a family therapist, feels constant praise is belittling.
Encouraging the child builds self-confidence
The parent is hoping praise will build the child’s self-confidence. The goal is clear and good, but the method is wrong. Studies have shown encouraging the child does more to build self-confidence than excessive praise.
When a child constantly hears that they are smart, pretty, or talented, they may start to doubt their abilities if they don’t live up to these high standards. However, if they are encouraged to try their best and praised for their efforts, they will be more likely to feel good about themselves and continue to work hard.
Below are some tips on encouraging 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 roll 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, overemphasizing 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 the 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 children to other children or adults.
- Praise is not always wrong. Use praise for occasions that merit 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.
Why do some kids reject praise?
There could be a few reasons why some children reject praise. It could be that they don’t feel they deserve the praise, or they may feel uncomfortable with the attention it brings. Some children may also feel that they are being judged and found wanting in some way.
What is the difference between
praise and encouragement?
While both praise and encouragement involve showing support, the main difference between the two is that praise is often given when something has been done correctly, while encouragement can be given at any time. Encouragement usually focuses on boosting someone’s morale and helping them feel capable of achieving their goals while praising someone can sometimes make them feel like they are being judged.
Should parents always encourage their children?
Most of the time, parents should encourage their children. Sometimes it is important for them to hear that they have done something wrong. This kind of feedback helps them grow into better people and learn from any mistakes they might have made in the past.
Then there are a few times when we need to let our kids know that it’s okay if things don’t work out as planned- because, ultimately, no one is perfect!
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