Monday, November 15, 2010


I've been thinking recently about how much I praise my children.

I do it A LOT. I hear myself praising them for the mundane (and un-necessary) things "Thank you for putting on your jacket;" the important things "Good job running to the potty to go poop. I'll bet you feel proud of yourself;" and the character building "It was the right thing to do to tell your sister that you were sorry for hitting her. Good job."

I definitely try to focus on the specific behaviors "thanks for keeping a good attitude even when the plan kept changing" as opposed to the general "you're a good girl."

I just think my children are so wonderful that it's often hard to avoid "You are a FABULOUS child !" when I am overcome by emotion because of their wonderful-ness !

Seriously - that almost came out of my mouth one day, because I do think they are so fabulous and I want them to know how much I love them. But loving a child isn't cause for praise - just as children should not be praised (often) for things which they have no control over, such as appearance.

When I feel this outpouring of love, I should say "I love you" instead of "You're such a good girl." One of my favorite things to tell them is "I am so glad that God chose me to be your mommy."

What do you think about praise and children ? Do you try to avoid it or do you make a conscious decision to do it more ?


Herself said...

IMO a girl likes to hear she's pretty every now and again.

Laurie said...

I only wish someone praised me everytime I went potty or got a drink without spilling or wiped my hands off in the correct place :) Seriously though, I too try to label things more than praise them. It is tough though! I really liked the chapter in Nurtureshock about praise.

Maud said...

I tend to say "Thank you for being so helpful" quite a lot, rather than the horribly generic "good". (And don't get me started on people who ask "Is he/she a good baby?" How can a baby possibly be bad? Rant.) And then I usually try to elaborate on exactly what was helpful about it.

The corollary is that I try not to tell them off for being "bad", but I do often let them know that that just wasn't even a little bit helpful.

Unknown said...

I think it is possible to overpraise. Certainly praise is a powerful tool, and it should be used frequently when someone is learning a new skill and occasionally when the new skill is being reinforced. (Psychology tells us that using rewards, including praise, intermittently is more effective than using them all the time.) It's also important for the praise to be specific. "Thank you for putting your dishes in the sink."

But you're right that you should also say "I love you." when that's what you mean, because it is not possible to love a kid too much. It is not possible for them to feel too loved. I want my kids to carry my love with them like a shield.

Rachel et Natalie said...

I like praising them too and telling them how much I love them. The "I love you " moment is quite often said many times at bed time.

dc604 said...

i would say that you are actually choosing encouragement over simple praise, even if you don't realize it. i was fortunate to be introduced to encouragement early in my career, and have had the opportunity to pass it on to many educators and parents. praise vs encouragement. this is a nice summary of it:

Marya said...

After reading books like "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen . . ." and Positive Discipline when David was younger I make a very conscience effort to encourage versus praise. I try very hard to say what I like about things the kids are doing instead of "What a smart/good/kind boy, etc." I would say I succeed most of the time.

I also try to ask David if he is proud of himself when he does something so he can begin to rely on his sense of self as his guide.

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