Praising your kids

In last weekend's paper, I read an article entitled, "What's all the fuss about Praise?".  I also found an online copy of this article here.  

The article talks about how important it is to praise your child in just the right way because it's going to affect how they cope with experiences in the future.

Over praising

"Simply speaking, telling them they’re wonderful and 

patting them on the head won’t cut it and could be just as 

bad as being critical, some experts believe. "

The article talks about how important it is to praise your child in just the right way because it's going to affect how they cope with experiences in the future. I agree completely that how you speak to your child, how you praise them, discipline them, teach them etc all shapes the kind of person they will grow up to be.

However, the suggestions given in this article are not something I agree with.  For example, 

"One of the research leaders, Stanford psychology professor

 Carol Dweck, explains: “[Saying] ‘You’re great, you’re 

amazing’ – that isn’t helpful. Because later on, when they 

don’t get it right or don’t do it perfectly, they’ll think they’re 

not so great or amazing. "

I'm all for telling kids they are amazing and wonderful when they do achieve something. Success deserves praise and kids thrive on praise.

To avoid praising them too much when they succeed, just because they might not be able to cope if they fail is not the way to look at things.  Everyone is going to go through both successes and failures. We need to teach our kids to cope with those failures, but not at the expense of celebrating their achievements.

Our family celebrates every success, and achievement our kids make. We make a fuss of them, praise and reward them.  I believe this is extremely important to encourage children to always strive to do their best and achieve their goals and clearly show that there is a benefit and reward in doing so.

Kids need to learn how to deal with failures

To help them cope with failures, we need to sympathise, and encourage them to keep on trying, to not give up.  We should focus on the positives, the fact that they tried hard, and although they may not have achieved what they were trying to this time, show them what they can learn from this and use it to keep on trying.

Thomas Edison (inventor of the light bulb) is a great example to use,

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” 

Children need to experience failure to learn how to deal with it, and how to pick themselves up and carry on.  

Suggested praise

Some suggestions are given at the end of the article as to what is deemed to be effective and what is ineffective praise. For example:

(ineffective) Too reward-focused: “You caught the ball, Libby – you deserve a star.” 

(effective) Acknowledges effort and feelings: “You tried to catch the ball three times, Libby. You seem pleased that you did so well.” 

I disagree completely with this.

If a child tries to catch a ball and succeeds, then they deserve praise for the fact that they caught the ball - not wishy washy encouragement that they tried hard without the acknowledgement of their success.

If parents praise their kids in the way suggested in this article, then I believe it will result in children who lack the motivation to strive to achieve.  Why would children set their sights high and try to better themselves, when they are taught there is no more reward for that, than just doing the bare minimum.

In my opinion, achievements and successes both small and large should be shouted about and celebrated with gusto. Failures are something that happens to us all, and is part of growing and learning. They are stepping stones towards the successes and achievements we should all be striving for.

What do you think?

How do you praise your children?

Do you think sometimes parents 'over-praise' their kids?

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