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Or is it really ok to praise your children?

(87 Posts)
Iwasjustabouttosaythat Mon 26-Sep-16 04:25:20

Inspired by a thread where someone stated their DM was too positive about them while growing up. They didn't say any more than that but I'm wondering if anyone here has had a similar experience?

Having had a super critical/nasty DM who hugely impacted my self-confidence I can't help but do the opposite with my children and let them know how much I adore them.

I know there are a few books around at the moment which say you're setting your kids up to fail if you praise them too much, but to me they really are amazing so I tell them what I think honestly. AIBU?

Have you been on the receiving end of lots of love and praise? Never told you're fat or wouldn't be good at some things so don't bother? How has the praise affected you?

Champagneformyrealfriends Mon 26-Sep-16 04:37:38

My dad was very critical. I am confident in some ways but full of self doubt in others-I worry a lot too which I've always suspected may be down to how critical he can be.

I want DD to grow up happy and confident so I'm placemarking really to see what others say!

Motherfuckers Mon 26-Sep-16 04:45:15

I don't think the opposite of too much praise is telling your kids they are fat/worthless etc. I think NT children see through empty praise and then it becomes counter productive. I think too much praise over inflates the ego and causes narcissism, I live in the US, I see this all the time.

Motherfuckers Mon 26-Sep-16 04:48:09

Sorry, I meant the "opposite of lots of love and praise is telling your kids they are fat/worthless"

SofiaAmes Mon 26-Sep-16 04:57:33

I had a selectively critical mom...anything academic was praised (which luckily I was super-good at) and everything else was ignored (my skills as an athlete, my creative achievements, my looks, etc.). I found that this gave me a warped view of myself that wasn't particularly helpful in life.
I have made a point of equal opportunity praising of all aspects of their lives to my children without being insincere....(dd is basically entirely useless at cleaning and tidying and I haven't been able to bring myself to find anything to praise in that department - she's so great at everything else, it's just become a family joke). My ds' are now teenagers and I think that lots of meaningful love and praise has significantly contributed to how well adjusted and happy they are as teenagers. I still have standards and expectations for them, but am not stingy with my praise when it's deserved.

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 26-Sep-16 05:05:15

I don't do gushy praise. What I do is notice. And thank. And ask DD if she thinks she did a good job. And pick out bits that I see were an effort.

So, "thanks for setting the table DD. I see you put the knives really neatly. Did you work hard at that?" She then hopefully knows I noticed, feels the gratitude and here's the important bit; feels proud of herself.

The issue with gushy praise is that it sets the locus outside the child. They want the praise so do things for the praise. Not necessarily an issue but can lead to people pleasing and craving praise over self-fulfillment.

Sometimes however I gush. She's 5 and so awesome.

SeasonalVag Mon 26-Sep-16 05:10:48

Nah, I praise my kids for the good stuff and criticise poor behaviour etc. Trick is to praise when it's earned. Not just a blanket gushfest. I go ballistic if they are physically abusive to each other or are being mean spirited to each other. My parents cared too much about things like table manners and didn't take much notice of poor behaviour between us kids. It's impacted all of us pretty badly, none of us siblings speak to eachother

Motherfuckers Mon 26-Sep-16 05:16:19

MrsT I hope that is just an example for us all to see, and not something you have actually said...!!! grin

MrsTerryPratchett Mon 26-Sep-16 05:18:27

Just an example! grin

joellevandyne Mon 26-Sep-16 05:19:50

I also try to thank and praise with detail, rather than gush or exaggerate.

So I'd say, "Wow, you spent so much time painting all the leaves on the tree and it looks really realistic" instead of "Wow, that's an amazing painting, you're so talented!"

Or when I ask one of them to do something and they do it, I say "Thank you", rather than "You're such a good boy."

They're not big differences, but I do think they add up. My parents tended to praise in the second way, rather than the first, and I have definitely grown up with issues about equating "performing well" or "being good" with being loved.

dentydown Mon 26-Sep-16 06:14:13

I had a mother whose attitude was "i shouldnt praise you for being good, you should do it all the time". And was criticised academically since about 10 (think "that is NOT a realistic horse" and "nah it doesn't look nice" type comments). It did mess me up a bit. I was smacked for wrong doing, but I had no idea what was "correct".

I praise my boys a lot, but I am specific... so I tend to say "jnrDenty you remembered to wait at the road, nice one!" just something so I can recognise that they've been good, and they know to keep carrying out that action!

Juanbablo Mon 26-Sep-16 06:18:10

I think my parents were pretty positive but I still have self esteem issues.

I also issue a lot of specific praise like "thank you for doing that when I asked you" or "it was really kind of you to help you sister get her shoes", "well done for waiting for me".

I don't criticise them but I pull them up on bad behaviour/lack of effort but also show them that I understand (or want to) why they behaved that way rather than just automatically punish. Unless it's physical like hitting, they know that's an immediate time out.

Dh can sometimes be critical and I hate it.

citychick Mon 26-Sep-16 06:19:31

Hi, OP.

In this day and age, we are damned if we do and damned if we don't.
But I think most of us know that kids and adults alike love and need praise.

I don't remember much praise as a child. I definitely praise DS when he deserves it.
I throw in a random "well done" if I think he's down about something. I know DS has quite low self esteem, so I complement him for a job well done, trying hard, looking smart, etc.

I really don't want him to be the sort of kid who only reacts to a bollocking.
That's so sad. He's just turned 10 and he is becoming a preteen so I try not to bang on and on in a negative fashion. Hard sometimes!

I never gush, not my personality. But a high five, "yeah! You did really well! Are you happy with that? You should be." Definitely makes him feel good.

Wellmeetontheledge Mon 26-Sep-16 06:21:02

I'm a teacher and recent studies have shown that praise for specific things the child has put effort into a very helpful fm for their growth. Empty gushing praise is not. Look up 'growth mindsets' smile

ChickenSalad Mon 26-Sep-16 06:23:58

It's not a good idea to tell them constantly they are clever (or the reverse!) as it creates an expectation that they will be good at everything and they are then afraid to try new things and/or to get things wrong. Better to praise for working hard at something- praise the effort that has led to the achievement.

Similarly naughty/good behaviour rather than that they themselves are naughty/good.

My DM in particular always constantly told me that I was the most clever and most beautiful child. While this is better than the reverse I did worry about getting things wrong and also had a bit of a "Belle of the ball" complex (as I call it) where I had to be the most beautiful in any given situation. This lasted into my 20s.

TheDowagerCuntess Mon 26-Sep-16 06:27:11

I'm big on praise. I probably don't always do it 'correctly', but I'm 100% my kids' biggest cheerleader, I think they're amazing, I make no apologies for that, and never will.

They will probably end up in therapy one day, complaining about how I told them they were wonderful all wrong, but so be it. grin

I would find it too calculating and insincere to stop myself and think about the best way to frame something. I absolutely do praise their behaviour / effort / creative output - and probably do need to make more of an effort to to focus on that.

I was raised in a very positive environment. Looking back, my DF was probably the more lavish praiser, whilst my DM was much more physically affectionate and loving.

elodie2000 Mon 26-Sep-16 06:28:17

Extreme example of why a balance is needed:
Two of DC's friends come from families where the mothers absolutely dote on them. Both mothers talk about their DC as if they are child prodigies.
The boy has 'little emperor syndrome' and really does expect everyone to treat him the way his mother does. The girl is full of self importance and gravitates towards me whenever she has been at our house. She likes to tell me all about herself instead of spending time with my DC.
We have distanced ourselves over the years mainly because I realised that the two children (who are unrelated) are massively competitive, will put my DC and other friends down to put themselves on top and literally cannot cope with any disagreements with other children.

ChickenSalad Mon 26-Sep-16 06:28:46

That said, I use a lot of effort/good behaviour type praise with DCs. Particularly when children are very young, parents can focus on bad behaviour and end up constantly telling them off because the only time the child gets attention is when they are naughty, and they are left too much to their own devices and are not praised/given attention when behaving appropriately.

HeyMicky Mon 26-Sep-16 06:29:00

I don't think you can praise too much. But you can praise in the wrong way.

Praise should be timely and specific. It should recognise the effort rather than the end result. And it should be about things within their control i.e. not "You look pretty"

mouldycheesefan Mon 26-Sep-16 06:30:41

We praise effort rather than ability

So well done, you tried hard in that test rather than well done you are clever.

fldsmdfr Mon 26-Sep-16 06:31:12

I praise for working hard, and specific things.

But I think most of us know that kids and adults alike love and need praise.

My parents didn't do praise. I remember visiting their house a few years ago and commented that the lawn was looking good. My dad beamed. He'd been working really hard in the garden, weeding, feeding etc. Of course, my mum then made some snarky comment or other. I then realised that noone got any praise or appreciation in that house. And that's why they're all so fucking miserable.

Believeitornot Mon 26-Sep-16 06:31:21

I think the worst kind of criticism is when you're compared to someone else or for something which attacks you eg appearance.
I praise my children specifically and take an interest in what they do ad ask questions. This helps them work out what is great about them.

I also am careful not to provide constructive criticism as they're too young and that's not my job. Maybe because it's something I'm quite sensitive about. Eg "you should have done this instead" isn't very nice. I do of course tell them off for bad behaviour!

Believeitornot Mon 26-Sep-16 06:34:58

fldsmdfr that snarky comment reminded me of DH's parents. His parents especially his mum is a bit like that. Dh is too.

I hate sarcasm and get less tolerant of it as I age especially when used towards the DCs.

citychick Mon 26-Sep-16 06:40:54


Your parents sound like mine!
My mum cuts my dad down every time. She can be quite toxic.

Farmerinthoseclothes Mon 26-Sep-16 06:42:52

Praising in the right way, yes. This is what I will try to do. With the occasional gush at just how wonderful my DS is because I'm his mammy grin

My boss once commented in conversation that she doesn't praise her children, ever. That was a lightbulb moment for me as she is a horrible boss and I find her incredibly hard to work for. I cannot thrive without any praise, so my work goes downhill. She does do criticism, which increases as my work deteriorates. God only knows what it's like being her child

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