I am one of the 85% of all parents so to statistics, who are persistently telling their little ones how intelligent they are by saying ‘that is so smart’ and ‘great job’. A few months ago my husband sent me an article by George Will (you can also find it at http://www.JewishWorldReview.com). Basically it is declaring, do your child a favor and tone down the praises!
Well, for me I thought thinking highly of oneself is a need for high accomplishment – So every time my son used the bathroom we sang praises to him- How smart he is…blah. I can plead guilty as charged, I am a praise junkie. Do you remember reading somewhere in a parenting book or magazine that rewarding and patting kiddos back constantly makes them confident adults? Apparently, because of self-esteem obsession these kids grow up into adults who are needy and always need validation. Some children’s soccer teams stopped counting goals and shower everyone with trophies. Overdoing it, I say!
In addition, studies have shown that praise is without doubt good, but some kinds of praises are better than others. So, unspecific praise, or over praise, can become empty. ‘Praise that’s too general, like “you’re such a good child” that’s not connected with a specific behavior, doesn’t mean much. Too much praise can backfire; it doesn’t allow the child to experience failure and to learn some ways to deal with it.’ (Child Center, 2007) ‘So over praised kids as adults have issues ~ “Often they have difficulty at conflict resolutions, disappointment or tolerating any negative emotions at all.”
Anyhow, praise can be a good teaching tool to our kids but it has to be precise and real so the kiddos can learn how to amend their behavior. NYU institute states that when you’re talking about academic work, we should remember; not to connect praise to the outcome. Rather than praise the A on a test with something like “You’re so smart,” praise the effort. “You really studied hard for that test.” Praise something over which the child has control—focusing, paying attention, sharing, working hard, etc. (2007) “Children who are constantly praised for being smart tend to avoid challenges because they think they may fail. A child who is praised for effort or other qualities over which s/he has control will gain self-confidence.”
By the way, this praising overload is getting tougher for me to break off from; I am trying but still catch myself doing it. Honest, but not hurtful, feedback is the key.
What do you think can you over praise a kid? How much is too much? How little is too little?