AUTHOR: Farwa Shoaib
Praising a child is known as the most effective strategy to deal with children (even adults). It is encouraging for children and easy for parents, but it’s tricky. Yes, it is! Are we spoiling children with our words? Do they understand that they don’t own the world and they are not perfect? Do they understand that perfection is not a goal? “OMG! You are looking so beautiful, my princess! No one is going to look better than you at the party.” What if she thinks that no one else is beautiful, only she is? Praising is a life-saver but how do you praise your child and will doing so produce positive long-lasting outcomes? That’s what is important.
What Is Praise?
Praising is the act of expressing approval or admiration towards someone’s act or accomplishment. Praise can be used to reinforce desired outcomes. For example, good grades, winning at a sport, chores being completed, or displaying positive attitudes.
Why Praising A Child Is Important
An American Psychological Association study concluded that children that were praised in school displayed better effort, rather than the students who were blamed or were given negative feedback. Praising a child has many benefits such as:
- Praising nurtures the child’s self-confidence.
- It helps boost children’s academic performance.
- It increases children’s morale and motivation.
- Encourages good behavior.
- Improves parent-child relationships.
- Makes children feel more loved.
Is Praising Spoiling Children?
Possibly, yes! BUT spoiling children is not the direct product of “praising”, but rather, “over-praising” or utilizing the “wrong way of praising”. Praising is a great practice, but if done in the wrong way, it can do more harm than good by spoiling children. A study conducted by Eddie, Sander, and Bram concluded that “Inflated or over-praising might convey the message to children that they must continue to meet very high standards; that might discourage children with low self-esteem from taking on more challenges.”
Also, praising may encourage children to think that they are the best; which can lead them to be egocentric and arrogant. Be aware of children who are praised every single time that they perform great in academic and extracurricular activities. Later on, these children may end up being angry and aggressive when someone else is being praised in front of them. They cannot digest the fact that someone else can also perform well. This behavior is the result of spoiling children by over-praising or praising them in a wrong way.
Types Of Praising
Efforts Or Behavior-Based Praise
This is the right and effective type of praise and you do not need to worry about spoiling children with this approach. The child is given compliments for their efforts and good behavior rather than what they have or did unintentionally. It encourages the child to put in more effort and focus on learning. To be deliberate in their positive actions and desired results.
Where a child is praised for what abilities they have. This is the worst form of praise because they may think that they already have so many built-in abilities and they might refuse to take challenges and put in efforts to achieve something. This type of praise does not encourage personal growth but instead results in spoiling children and a fixed mindset.
The Right Way To Praise A Child
Parents should be conscious about how they praise their children so their children can enjoy the benefits of praise, such as improved self-confidence, discipline, and the development of good practices. Here are the right ways to praise a child that do not result in spoiling children.
Praise For Efforts – Not For Achievements
The wrong way to praise: “Wow! You made the highest grade on your math exam. This is awesome.”
The right way to praise: “I saw how hard you were studying for your math exam and I knew you would make a great grade. Awesome work!”
Another example is that you have a toddler who just finished her painting and wants your review.
The wrong way to praise: “OMG! What a great painter you are!’’
The right way to praise: “You’ve tried your best and I love the painting you made.”
By praising the efforts and not the outcome, you are teaching the child that the efforts are important, not the achievements.
Praise For Learning – Not For Intelligence
The wrong way to praise: “You have solved the puzzle so quickly, my intelligent girl!”
The right way to praise: “Wow, you have learned to solve the puzzle so quickly. You always try so hard!”
Some children are blessed with innate intelligence and that makes them achieve great results fast. There is a huge chance that these kids will think that they do not need to focus or learn new skills to achieve a goal. Praising them the right way is a great tool to help them learn that they need to LEARN. Intelligence is an extra tool they have, but they need to learn and focus if they really want to become successful in their lives.
Praise For What They Give – Not For What They Have
It doesn’t mean that you can’t offer compliments on stuff that they have. But making them think that what they have is awesome and they shouldn’t share it with others is not the intended result. For example, instead of saying, “Wow! You have so many toys, I love your collection”, you should say, “I love your toys, would you share them with me?”
Praising generosity, kindness, and sharing will prevent spoiling children, and instead encourage those behaviors. When children do share something they have you should show your excitement and how happy you are for their generosity.
Praising children for what they have will encourage them to selfishly keep things. While praising them for what they give, will prevent spoiling children and encourage them to become helpful and generous people.
Praise Them For Moral Sense – Not For Obedience
Almost every parent praises their child because of how obedient they are. After all, it makes daily life much easier. However, obedience is not necessarily a good thing. Praise children for not just doing what they are told, but how well they understand the difference between right and wrong and making good decisions. Praise them for how they pick up what is the best thing to do and how they avoid the wrong things. You won’t always be there to provide them with instructions. First, start praising them for their moral sense so they can develop self-confidence to make their own decisions wisely.
Don’t Always Praise Them For Looks
It’s the usual praise, “You’re so beautiful.” Telling your child that they are looking great is a good thing to make them think positively about themselves. But don’t overdo it. People who are praised too much for their beauty become a victim of the superiority, or sometimes inferiority, complex. Either they become egocentric and think that they are the most beautiful person or they end up being too afraid of losing their beauty. Everyone probably knows someone that is always worried about their skin, hair, and body; they are always worried about their looks even though they are truly beautiful.
You run the risk of spoiling children for praising children too much about their beauty. This can also lead them to be over-conscious about themselves. That being said, praise them for how they look. It’s a good thing for them to hear that they are beautiful, but don’t overdo it. It may do more harm than good. You can praise them for cleanliness, instead. “You look so clean and fresh.” This is also a good way to compliment and encourage their self-hygiene.
Do’s And Don’ts Of Praising
- Praises should be natural and earned.
- Make eye contact with the child when praising.
- A praise must be encouraging.
- Never over-praise children.
- Don’t play the comparison game by comparing them with other children.
Praise is a very good practice to help children gain self-confidence and encourage them to put effort into their tasks. However, the way parents praise children and how much they do it is important. So, don’t overdo it and choose the right way to praise them to avoid spoiling children. Praise children for the behaviors that you want to be repeated and qualities that you want them to have throughout their life.
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