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Praising a child for doing amazing and wonderful deeds is natural for parents. I admit I can’t help it when my kid does something that I can’t believe someone his age is capable of doing. It just feels good inside and as a parent, you are proud that you simply have an awesome kid. But is too much praise beneficial in building your kid’s self-esteem? When is praising overly done?
The effects of too much praise have been studied in recent years. A 2014 study conducted by the Ohio State University stated that parents who constantly praise their kids even for the tiniest of accomplishments will eventually raise narcissistic individuals. In contrast, kids who are praised for their efforts rather than their talent or skills will become more motivated as they grow up, according to a study by Stanford researchers.
Unconsciously, parents praise their kids too much to make them feel better. They think that praising motivates the child to continue with the excellent job. Some even go with praises just so their children will like them.
While there’s nothing wrong with leaving positive comments, doing so in the wrong way can have negative consequences on the child’s development. As outlined in Psychology Today, overpraising can lead to:
– development of feelings of entitlement – Kids who were overpraised by parents tend to feel that they’re super special. While feeling special is quite nice, it’s different in this case. Kids will grow up feeling entitled and they’ll soon feel that everything should be easy for them. In the event that reality happens and life brings them challenges, they’ll have a hard time overcoming it.
– feeling inadequate- too much praise would include falsely building them up. When a child continues to receive false build-ups, he or she will feel the need to be exceptional just so he or she gets accepted by her peers or society.
So how, then, do you praise your child the correct way or how do you build up their self-esteem?
Words matter and thinking about what you say is important in building your child’s character. “The right praise motivates our kids to learn, stretches persistence and boosts resilience,” Dr. Michele Borba, renowned educator, speaker, and best-selling author, wrote. Borba sums up the proper way of praising your child in three steps, called the 3 S’s.
Be specific. Avoid giving your kids generic compliments like “Great job!” This generic statement doesn’t help your kid understand what he did right or what he needs to improve. Stating what the child has done right specifically will highlight the task and he is likely to repeat the good deed. Borba said adding “because” to your praise and specifying why helps. (Ex. “Great job because you chose the right colors for your drawing.”
Be short. Your praise doesn’t have to be done every minute or every hour or given in an elaborate statement. Just a one-sentence praise delivered the proper way is enough.
Be sincere. Don’t flatter your child just so you’ll have something good to say. Kids can determine whether you’re faking it or not. Make sure you say it wholeheartedly and that the praise is intended for a child who earned it.