In the last few years, research conducted on children and parents have revealed that excessive praise or the wrong type of praise from parents can undermine the confidence of children.
Nonspecific and undeserved praise can also hinder the natural development of perseverance and resilience. Traditionally, parents have always praised their children for boosting their self-esteem and confidence.
However, in the light of the new studies, many parents are wondering whether they should pat their children on the back as much as they should, or cut back on it. The answer lies in moderation. It is best to consider when to praise your kids and when not to.
When to Praise Your Kid?
- “Praise when he/she deserves it.”
Undeserved parental praise can spoil a child and make him or hunger for compliments at every good gesture or action. As a responsible parent, it is your duty to praise your kid only when he deserves it. Praise him for things like:
- A job was done
- A kind gesture to a playmate, friend or stranger
- His good efforts
- His ability to learn from mistakes
Be generous with your praise when he has done something very good and deserved every bit of your compliments.
- “Praise him for his persistence.”
Persistence is one of the greatest qualities that you can boast about in your child, but never do that before him. Urge him to be persistent with all his efforts, whether in studies, sports or in any other thing, but also guide him about when he should give it up and call it a day.
Being persistent in wrong directions and working hard but not smart will not get your kid anywhere. Once your child shows persistence with wisdom, appreciate him generously and encourage him to keep up with his dedicated efforts. Soon, he will invest 100% of his efforts into all that he does.
- “Praise him for his behavior.”
Keep in mind that the objective of appreciation is to encourage desirable behavior and discourage undesirable ones. Over time, praise for positive efforts should condition your child into acting right every time. The negative traits and behaviors have to be discouraged out, and only the positive ones need to be reinforced.
For this reason, you have to be generous with praises in the initial years of his life for almost every good gesture or behavior. It can be very difficult to root out bad behavior when he turns 5 years or older in age.
- “Praise him for his growth.”
The more kids grow up, the more they are supposed to be responsible. Look at your kid. Do you feel he is turning into the kind of person you or the world would like him to be? If he is getting more disciplined and focused with his approach and efforts, you should praise him for those qualities. You can make him a chart pertaining to the 10 study habits that every student should maintain to excel in life.
- “Praise him for achievements.”
Childhood seems to be all about achieving bigger and better goals, and you should appreciate each achievement of your child. However, you should also teach him that he might not be able to achieve every time. More than the achievements, he should focus on his efforts and give all his heart and soul to every project that he undertakes.
Even if he is unable to make a stupendous achievement, being successful should be enough. Even when he fails, he should not be ashamed or regretful of his efforts. Life is all about growth, and he should keep on trying to find out which door opens to him.
When Not to Praise Your Kid?
- “When he expects praise every ”
If your kid is doing well in the same type of task and expecting to be praised to the skies, cut him to size a bit. Be appreciative but point out a few flaws as well. This will keep him grounded, and make him understand that he ranks among mortals.
Being addicted to praise will be detrimental for him. You will not always be around to praise him for every job well done.
- “When he looks for rewards or ”
Never shower your kid with money for a job well done. Sure, he might need a toy, a gadget or that mouthwatering treat at the corner of the store. Be kind enough to purchase those. Do not shower him with rewards every time.
Once he gets accustomed to getting a reward for a successful task, he will soon develop a bad habit for those. Very soon, he will start asking for a reward directly and sulk in a corner when being denied so. It is good to withhold your praise or just pat on his back to acknowledge his efforts from the second or third time.
- “When he continues his ”
Even he is good in some respects; he might also have some flaws. Point those out to him. If you find him stagnating with his efforts and attempts, whether in studies, sports or overall personal development, it is a good idea to stop praising him as much as you used to do earlier.
This will inspire him to be more serious about doing something that is praiseworthy. He will make that extra effort to be better and provide you with a genuine and not flimsy reason for showering compliments.
- “When he gets too sure of his ”
Nothing is worse than having your kid with all his flaws and insecurities getting too sure about his abilities. The overconfidence can cost him good grades, prizes in sports competitions and even a fight with that bully. As a good parent, you should never go on harping on his mistakes.
- You should tread a fine balance between appreciation and criticism.
- Point out the areas where he is lacking, and where he should focus on.
- Discuss his weaknesses as a friend and show that you are eager to help him out polish the rough areas.
Once he understands you are out there to help him, he will open about his insecurities and flaws and ask for guidance from you.
How Much Should You Praise Your Kid?
It is best that you praise the efforts more and not the achievements so much. Doing this will make your kid realize that mistakes and failures are not the ends of life. They should work smart and not just hard, and keep on trying. You should:
- Point out the positives
- Praise the efforts more than the outcomes
- Use body language, and not always verbal cues, to express your approval
- Avoiding sarcastic comments with praise
- Rephrasing your praise at times to show approval and not appreciation as such
As your child grows up a little, show him the examples of other kids who hunger for attention and praise all the time.
Make him understand that this counts as an undesirable behavior and even if you do not praise him all the time, you approve of and appreciate all his good efforts and detest all his bad ones. That way, your kid will develop resilience, persistence and self-satisfaction.
Even when you are long gone from his side, your words will stay on with him and continue to encourage him through the rest of his life!