can you give your child too much praise?

(13 Posts)
HarumScarumSanitarium Sun 03-Jul-16 20:36:22

As most parents are proud, we are very proud of DS aged 5 years.

Constantly tell him I love him and give him positive encouragement in whatever he does - eg, what a great throw, what a good batsman you are, what beautiful handwriting you have etc etc. when he has a strop about an evening finishing, I don't just say that it is tough and put him to bed, I say what a wonderful thing that he is sad the game is over, it goes to show what a brilliant time he has had. Just a few examples.

I try to show him the positives. If he is not so strong at something, I tell him, 'good try!' Standard parenting I guess.

However, when we were in the car today, he said, 'mummy, I'm fantastic aren't I". I said, 'yes you are!'

It made me wonder though, if I have been overdoing the praise!

Can you give a child too much praise?

IAmTheWhoreOfBabylon Sun 03-Jul-16 20:40:27

Yes imo and it is the opinion of dd's therapist
DD has SN
They become dependent on external praise and it's not realistic beyond family
I work with a very tiresome person who's parent has pandered and over praised
The satisfaction should be internal
I say to my DD you must feel very pleased with yourself for achieving that

Believeitornot Sun 03-Jul-16 20:48:15

Yes - that seems a bit overkill! especially the stropping bit because how will he learn that actually, strops aren't acceptable behaviour?
So there's a bit about teaching him how to manage a strop ("DS, I know you're tired/upset because you enjoyed the game but now it has to stop because it is bedtime. You can tell me you're feeling cross instead of doing X/y/z")

Also as the PP poster says, you should encourage internal satisfaction.

So if one of my DCs comes and shows me something they've done, instead of saying "what a good drawing", I'll ask them about it and show an interest. Also ask them what do they like about it. Sometimes if I'm feeling lazy, I'll say "good drawing etc", but most of the time I'll get them to talk about it.

Much better way to build confidence. Especially when they come across people who disagree with their ideas or won't play with them etc as happens at school sometimes. I want them to think "well I like it" instead of trying to copy other people to fit in or get praise.

It takes a lot of effort and we aren't quite there yet but they're only young (6&4!)

HarumScarumSanitarium Sun 03-Jul-16 20:48:42

Babylon - that is a good phrase, I will remember that.

Ds started off as a shy boy and I have been conscious of building his self esteem.

HarumScarumSanitarium Sun 03-Jul-16 20:50:00

I Think you are absolutely right too Babylon

IsItMeOr Sun 03-Jul-16 20:53:20

I came on to say that I don't think you can give your child too much praise, but you can give them the wrong kind of praise...to see others have already said it smile.

My understanding is that Believe's approach is most likely to build strong self-esteem.

I'm somehow uneasy about telling a child that they "must feel" something, I think I react strongly to anyone telling anybody else what feelings to have, so that might just be me!

Believeitornot Sun 03-Jul-16 20:54:38

I think it is better to say "are you pleased?" - again showing interest.

willconcern Sun 03-Jul-16 20:58:47

I think you can over praise.

A boy in DC's class has been praised in the way you describe. He's quite obnoxious now, and can't understand why he isn't 'the best' at everything. He is very competitive but destructively so. He'll happily tell you he's excellent at reading, writing, swimming, football, running, music etc etc. It's very wearing. He's not very popular with the other kids because he tells them how marvellous he is all the time.

Sleeperandthespindle Sun 03-Jul-16 21:02:16

You should read Alfie Kohn on praise. Not necessarily to take on his views, but for a different perspective. Also look up 'growth mindset' which is quite a buzz thing in schools at the moment (Carole Dweck is the guru, I think).

corythatwas Mon 04-Jul-16 12:32:32

I think the kind of praise matters a lot. I would be very wary of giving any praise that can be objectively shown to be incorrect or liable to comparison with other people. That can lead to embarrassing situations with other children and make him lose trust in your judgment- and once he has lost trust, none of your praise will do anything for him at all.

"what beautiful handwriting you have"/"what a good batsman you are" suggests that his handwriting and batting is actually better than what is normal for children his age- if this is not the case, you will soon be devaluing yourself as an authority in his eyes. And it will be very embarrassing for him if he innocently blurts out "my mum says I'm a very good batsman" at school- and it turns out he isn't.

Praising individual throws or pictures is better: it gives him less to have to live up to, but is nice when it happens.

"Great try" is also much better, it is neutral, and as long as you think he was actually trying his hardest, it is factual.

"what a wonderful thing that he is sad the game is over"- is the one that is really bad. At 5 he already knows that throwing a strop is bad behaviour, it is not tolerated at school and it should not be encouraged at home- being praised for something he knows is not good will not serve to build his self esteem.

Like other posters, I also think it is better to praise a little less constantly: a child who has always had elaborate praise showered over every single thing he does is going to feel like a failure the moment it doesn't happen.

claraschu Mon 04-Jul-16 12:48:15

I think it is always good to show you genuinely appreciate and notice small things your child does.

I would say: " I love the way you filled your paper with bright colours" and maybe "tell me about your picture".

I would say: "I think it's great that you kept batting even when you were tired" or "I think your swing is getting stronger", and I would try to find something I could praise sincerely.

Kids appreciate it when people notice something they genuinely do well or try hard to do.

I try to: praise the specific act, not the child's "talents"; praise effort; mention the child's enjoyment rather than the child's achievement; never compare to other children, either explicitly or implicitly.

HarumScarumSanitarium Mon 04-Jul-16 19:22:53

Thanks for all your useful replies. I think I had better tone it down a tad wink

Mrscog Mon 04-Jul-16 19:42:57

I think with the being sad the game is over thing what you mean to do is empathise - how about 'I know it's disappointing when we've had loads of fun, but it is bedtime now' which is the phrase I use with my 4 year old. It seems to calm the situation by acknowledging the feeling but it sets the boundary that it is over and there's no point in fighting/being upset.

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