Is it ever possible to ‘over praise’ a child?
My short answer is, oh yeah.
The longer answer is thus:
We’re not raising boys or girls. We’re raising young men and young ladies. Now, I realise that this sounds very much ‘Little House On The Prairie’ – (reading this book at the mo actually, very good) – but let me explain my point. You don’t want to continually tell your child, or the child you care for, how amazingly brilliant they are for doing the right thing. They should be doing it anyway! That’s why it’s called ‘the right thing’; it’s something expected from all of us because doing anything else would be the wrong thing. If this sounds a little harsh, forgive me.
Don’t get me wrong; I completely believe kids should be praised for good behaviour. But if you make them feel like the little Prince or Princess of the world every time they eat all their greens or don’t hit a sibling, the pride they feel is going to wear off. It’s my experience that you’ll actually start getting the opposite effect, they’ll start getting sick of your high-pitched praises and constant kudos. ‘Well, of course’, they think to themselves. ‘I’m awesome. We all know I’m awesome. You’ve said it a thousand times.’
Yes. It is possible for our little treasures to get an inflated sense of their own self worth.
And, take it from me, there is nothing worse than a three year old diva.
Eventually, Junior will think it’s hilarious whenever you don’t tell them how excellent they’ve been.
We’ve all seen that wicked glint in a toddler’s eye when they are inches away from touching something they’ve been told not to. It’s an out and out dare, isn’t it?
‘Come on,’ they seem to be saying, as their chubby fingers reach for one more biscuit, or their toes dip into that particularly muddy puddle. ‘Bring it on, I know you don’t have the guts to tell me off. You can’t have forgotten I’m Perfect.’
Kids are only human, just like adults. Imagine if your boss simpered and grinned like a Court Jester every time you filed something correctly or had a report handed in on time. It would actually be a little embarrassing. What we want is for our employers to notice our stand-out performances, so when we meet an irksome challenge and overcome it, the Christmas bonus at the end of the year is just that little bit more special.
So, the long-winded point I’m trying to make is this: Save the big praising, so when your child or the child you care for has done something especially brilliant, they will know it.