Every parent nowadays knows the value of encouragement and positive reinforcement when it comes to their kids. When they show good judgement, display good manners, or generally do the things we would like to see more of, we tell them how proud we are of them and what a good job they just did. It’s common sense, right? Reward the good behavior and discourage the bad.
But like anything, there is a point where too much praise starts to have diminishing returns, and even begins to have the opposite effect. Kids who are given a ton of praise for no real effort on their part can start to distrust their parents encouragement and stop making an effort to better themselves or try new things.
So where’s the “sweet spot” between too much and too little? When should we commend our kids and when should we hold back? I’ll tell you more of my thoughts on the subject in today’s video.Rather read than watch? Click here.
We are over-praising our children, and there’s a couple of reasons why that’s not helpful, and I’m gonna share them with you today. So, if you praise children for every little thing that they do, then they stop trusting their own ability to try anything new.
So, let’s have a look at what I mean by that. If you tell your child repetitively how smart she is, for example, that’s a popular one. You know, she does something at school and you praise it for being smart, or you continually tell her that she’s smart, they’ll start to doubt you, especially if you start saying they’re smart when they really haven’t done anything to prove it.
Imagine if you were at work and all day long your boss told you how smart you were, day in and day out what a great job you were doing, but there was no real evidence that that’s what you were doing, right? And you would start to slack off a little bit and be like, “Well, he keeps telling me “how great a job I’m doing, how smart I am. “I’m just gonna kick up my heels here a little bit “and see what happens.”
And so, it actually starts to decrease motivation instead of increase it. Another problem with doing that is that it prevents children from taking risks.
Now, the interesting thing about confidence, in order for confidence to grow, we need to take risks, right?
So, on the one hand, we need to take risks for our confidence to grow, but on the other, we’re getting praised so much that we’re afraid to take risks. You can see how confidence is gonna suffer, and confidence and self-esteem are really, really interconnected. So, we have to start praising our kids for effort. “I saw you out on the basketball field tonight,” or court, not field. Clearly I’m not a sports fanatic. But praising the effort. You know, “I saw you really running fast for that ball,” or “I love how much you’ve been practicing “for your ballet recital. “All that hard practice is really gonna pay off.”
So, we’re praising the effort behind it so that our kids start to realize that doing things well actually takes some hard work, and it takes practice, and that’s okay, right? We want our kids to learn to work hard and to practice in order to do well.
Another area where I see a lot of parents over-praising is around looks. “She’s so cute,” right? Or “He is so handsome.” And, again, the dangers of doing that too much is that they start to place their value on their looks and their looks only, and we know, especially for girls, that this then becomes a problem into teens, and for life, really.
When we start to put all of our value into our looks, it starts to affect us in quite a few negative ways. So monitor it a little bit. I’m not saying you can’t tell your daughter she looks particularly beautiful on a certain day. I’m not saying stop all of that, but just be cautious that you’re not doing it too much.
One thing that I’ve really tried to stop doing is telling other parents how cute their children are. I might see a baby who is the most adorable baby on the planet, but it’s okay for me to think it. I don’t always have to say it. We don’t have to place so much emphasis on the looks of children.
So, overall, all I’m asking for today is for you to take a look at this. We don’t need to be giving out awards for every little thing a child does. We don’t need to be praising and high-fiving them for every little, you know, activity that they do, because the risks are high that, when they become adults, they’re gonna be looking for that validation. It won’t be internalized. They won’t have a strong sense of who they are and their abilities within.
They’ll always be looking for outside validation, and that’s tricky when you get into the workforce, because often there’s not a lot of outside validation, is there? You know, you’re not getting cheered on in the sidelines over every little deal you do, or every little business decision you make.
So, we really wanna make sure that we absolutely encourage our children to take risks, that we praise them for their effort and their hard work, and we stop just blanket praising for no reason.
Thanks so much for watching today. Sleep well!
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