On Parenting … on praising

From Dr Michelle Borba:

4 Signs Your Kid May Be Over-Praised

In all fairness, for years parents have been encouraged to “praise” their kids — and to do so lavishly. Reams of parenting books stress the value of giving kids all those accolades and acknowledgements–al those “Good job!” comments help our kids develop self-esteem! In fact, this weekend I picked up a flyer from at a parenting event with this advice: “Praising kids is the best way to boost their self-esteem. If you catch yourself saying a negative comment, remember the 5:1 Formula. ‘Kids need five positive comments for every negative comment they hear.”  (I strongly advise you not to ignore that advise). Most of us are guilty of over-praising so how do we know if we’re praising our kids too much? Here are signs of over-praising I shared on TODAY.

1. Self-Centered:  I did great, Mom!  The child is frequently praised individually so he forgets the contributions of others in the group or his team effort. Instead, he focuses on his plays, efforts, goals, etc. Listen for the pronouns of “Me and I” instead of “He, she, you, or we” in the child’s vocabulary.

2. Praise-Dependent:  “Do you like it mommy?”  The child is so used to hearing adults praise that he now depends on those accolades to jump start his effort and needs your approval for self-maintenance.

3. Expects Accolades:  “Aren’t you going to tell me, ‘Good job?’”  The child has heard your “Good job” so frequently that the praise no longer is meaningful. The child just expects you to say, “Atta boy!” regardless of whether it’s deserved.

4. Over-Competitive:   “But I’m better than her and got a higher grade.”  The child has heard praise so often and needs the accolades to maintain her own self-image. The danger is that the child can begins to tear others down to feel better about herself.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.naturalspirituality.wordpress.com Howard Pepper

    Some good points here… I do think many parents in recent decades may be over-reacting to earlier days (or their own experiences) in which their work was either largely ignored or maybe “corrected” before it was acknowledged in a positive or neutral way. I don’t think a parent or teacher can go wrong with copious amounts of RECOGNITION and appreciation for both the efforts and accomplishments of kids. Even adults want to be noticed and appreciated… much more so kids. And unless we really think something is PRAISEWORTHY, we don’t need to praise it or the child…. There are many ways to affirm and encourage, and they should be done with a mind to helping the child learn to respect themselves and their efforts, but not “esteem” themselves as better (or worse) than others.


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