Why You Should Avoid Over-Praising Your Child
The over-praising of your child is instinctual for many parents. We’re all guilty of it from time to time. However, there are many drawbacks to over-praising and it can do more harm than good.
Here’s a familiar scenario: A child brings a painting to an adult and the first thing the adult says is, “Wow! What a wonderful painting!” “you are such an amazing artist,” “I love it! It’s going on the fridge.”
While those may seem like obvious things to say to a child that’s worked on something and presented it to you, it can be detrimental to the child. In this blog, we’re going to explore why over-praise is not good and how to avoid it.
1. Children can sense false praise
English poet John Gay, in Epistle to a Lady, wrote, “Praising all alike, is praising none.”
When everything is “wonderful” or “beautiful” or “amazing”, those words become meaningless. Every effort by every child cannot be worthy of the same level of praise. This makes it difficult for the child to discern what of their work is good and what isn’t. It can make them less able to handle criticism when it arrives at some point in their life.
Children are also very good at picking up on false praise and eventually, an adult’s overenthusiasm might not be taken seriously, which is also discouraging to a child.
2. Describing what you see is more effective
All the “praise” words can be said without you ever having to look at what the child is showing you.
Resist the impulse to use these empty words and instead describe what you see.
“You’ve used a lot of green in this picture. Green makes me think of spring…green grass and leaves on the trees.”
“Everybody is smiling.”
Use simple statements with no judgements.
3. They start to need adult approval
If you over-praise a child every time their homework gets done, they get ready for bed, or they clean up after themselves, they are going to become dependent on adult approval.
Children are born with an innate love for work and completing tasks. There is no need for over-praise.
4. It makes it harder for them to handle criticism
If a child has heard nothing but unending praise for their everyday efforts in school, in sports, and at home, they won’t be prepared for the inevitable day when someone tells them that what they’ve done isn’t all that wonderful.
Appropriate criticisms and critiques are important in the child’s development and also affirms that when praise is given by an adult, it’s truly earned.
Over-praising a child might appear empathetic and loving, but as you’ve read, it comes with a host of problems and shortcomings for the child.
This doesn’t mean praise shouldn’t be given or good efforts acknowledged. However, your words should focus on the effort your child has put into the work, rather than the end result.
If you have any questions about praise, feel free to get in touch.