We’ve all said it.
But what does it really mean and is it even effective in helping raise our children? The truth in the matter is that praising our kids more and more doesn’t help enable them, nor does it boost a child’s self-esteem.
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Val Curtis joins us to talk about praising our kids and its effects on them. She is the President of BonBon Break Media, LLC and the Editor-in-Chief of BonBon Break. She is the mom to two, former teacher, and an island mom living in Washington. And the two of us discuss NurtureShock the book, have lots of research, and awesome empowering articles for you!
The case for not overpraising your child
We can boost our kids’ self-esteem without constantly giving them praise or showing them their worth based on performance.
Be sure to read specifically how to build a child’s self-confidnce here.
We must reward effort and not result or intelligence
When we tell our kids that we are proud of them, it should not be solely based on their performance. In fact, a failing grade and a lost game come with more life lessons that breezing through every class or sporting event.
In fact, kids that are at the top of the IQ charts struggle with challenges and obstacles. So it’s especially important for bright kids to be praised for effort over intelligence. This is so they understand that what they learned in the process and how hard they worked are more indicative of a “good job” than a stellar end product.
Positive Parenting is NOT all about gold stars and kind words.
So many people (both on the inside & the outside) believe that “positive parenting” is about staying happy, raising kids without holding them back, and never telling them no. But that’s actually not the case. Positive parenting is about taking a holistic approach to raising kids, understanding how their brains work and develop, and nurturing them to become contributing members of society.
So lavishing praise upon our kids 24/7 isn’t helping their little minds grow and thrive. It’s not teaching them consequences or forcing them to learn to overcome adversity.
And when we praise or kids, our words should go beyond the lovey-dovey “good jobs” and should be entering into “I really appreciate how hard you worked to finish that project”, “I am so proud to have a son/daughter that cares so much to help others!”, or “You showed so much strength and courage with how you handled that situation.”
You want to really help your children understand what they did and why it was good. And that’s what makes this kind of praise something that’s not really praise. It’s a learning moment.
There is no such thing as a loser.
In fact, in the podcast episode, you’ll hear Val mention that your kids will win or they will learn. She even mentions that we’re not fooling our children when we hand out participation awards.
When you take difficult moments, losses, failures, and otherwise uncomfortable situations head on with your kids, you yourself are entering this world of “short term pain for long term gain”. Over time, you will have taught your child how to respond to given situations, how to overcome, and to discover the benefits even in seemingly unfortunate situations.
You can help your kids most by being a support system, but let them do it.
Equipping our kids for situations and life in general is one of the greatest things we can teach them. So whether it’s to not praise every little detail of their day or to show them how far they have come and how their efforts have paid off is far more valuable than telling them a half-finished job looks great or that they don’t have to persevere and push through to finish something.
Val actually talks about on her own blog and podcast about why your kid doesn’t deserve an A. It’s a great discussion starter for your family dinner table or with your spouse because the difference between “1-2-3 Good job” does teach the same message that “You’re Out!” does.
In fact, it seems like it’s just teaching our kids that they poop roses, rainbows, and butterflies. When in reality, they should know the difference between Excellent, good, ok, and unacceptable. They have to learn to work hard try hard, and be present. Even when they’re toddlers and preschoolers!
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Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!