Praising kids on their efforts is a large part of parenting in general but did you know that giving your child too much praise can actually have the opposite effect then you intended?
As a mom of three, I know how much we all want our kids to succeed. And one of the ways we think we can help them is by giving them a lot of praise, telling them “good job” and all that.
But, have you ever thought about how too much praise might actually be holding our kids back? It’s a tricky thing, because we want to encourage them and build their self-esteem, but research shows that overpraising can lead to lower self-esteem and a lack of motivation.
So, what’s the solution? Instead of just saying “good job” all the time, we need to start providing constructive feedback that helps our kids develop a growth mindset.
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The negative effects of overpraising
Praising children for their efforts and hard work is essential for good parent educators, but it’s important to be mindful of the potential negative effects of overpraising.
Studies have shown that overusing common phrases such as “great job” or “hard worker” can lower children’s self-esteem and self-worth.
According to Carol Dweck, a leading researcher in the field, children may start to believe that they can only do well if they are receiving special treatment or praise, and when they don’t meet our high expectations, they may feel like they’ve failed.
Furthermore, overpraising can create unrealistic expectations for children, leading them to believe they are always supposed to be perfect, which can be tough to live up to.
Additionally, a new study shows that overpraising can inhibit risk-taking and creativity in children, causing them to avoid challenges and new experiences out of fear of not receiving the same positive attitudes.
It is important to praise specific actions or behaviors and not the child as a whole in order to help children understand that they can always improve and develop new skills.
Unearned praise can have negative effects on a child’s self-esteem, according to a study from Exeter University. The study found that when children receive praise for things they haven’t actually done or earned, it can lower their self-esteem. In contrast, when praise is given in the right way, it can have positive effects on a child’s self-esteem.
This may include praising children for their effort, persistence, and hard work, rather than their innate abilities. Studies by Ohio State University also found that praising a child’s effort and hard work is more effective in boosting self-esteem than praising children for being “good” or “smart.”
The study’s author, Eddie Brummelman, a clinical psychologist said, “Praise can be a powerful tool for parents and educators, but it has to be used in the right way to have positive effects on children’s self-esteem.”
Therefore, parents should be mindful of the way they use praise and ensure that it is earned and specific, rather than generic statements such as “good boy” or “well done”.
How to provide constructive feedback
Providing constructive feedback is key to helping our children develop a growth mindset and set them up for success in the long run.
This means moving away from excessive praise, which can lower children’s self-esteem and create unrealistic expectations. Instead, we should focus on emphasizing effort over outcome. For example, instead of just praising a good grade, we should acknowledge the hard work and effort put in to achieve that grade. Additionally, we should provide specific feedback, rather than just saying “good job” for an easy task.
This will help children understand what they did well and what they need to improve on. Encouraging self-reflection is also important, as it allows children to understand their own learning process and set realistic goals for themselves.
And, it’s crucial to praise specific actions or behaviors and not the child as a whole. This will help children understand that they can always improve and develop new skills, not just rely on empty praise to boost their self-esteem. In this way, children will be better prepared to face the real world and new challenges, rather than constantly making social comparisons.
It’s important to keep in mind that this is especially important for young children, who are still developing their sense of self and learning to navigate the world around them.
How to foster a growth mindset in children
Fostering a growth mindset in children is crucial for their long-term success and happiness. One of the best ways to do this is by encouraging children to try new things, even if they might be difficult or challenging. Instead of praising a “great job” for completing an easy task, we should praise children for taking on a challenging task and giving it their best effort.
This helps children understand that their abilities can be developed and that they are capable of more than they think. Additionally, we should help children understand that mistakes are an opportunity to learn and that failure is not final.
Failure is just a part of the learning process and it is not a bad thing. According to Professor of Psychology, Lee Elliot Major, when children understand that their abilities can be developed, they become more motivated to learn and persevere through challenges.
This is supported by recent studies, which show that when children are praised for their efforts and intrinsic motivation, they are more likely to tackle big problems and make big differences in the future. It’s important to note that praising a child for their best effort is much more beneficial than praising them for a good outcome, for example, getting an A grade or solving a math problem.
Helping children understand this, is the first step to fostering a growth mindset in them.
Words Of Encouragement
Recent years have brought good news for parents who want to give their children the best chance at success. According to a study from Stanford University, providing words of encouragement and praise on a regular basis can have positive effects on children’s social skills, self-esteem, and motivation. However, it’s important to be mindful of the way we praise and the frequency of our praise.
Using excessive praise, or “helicopter parenting” can have negative effects on children’s confidence and motivation. Studies show that children who are praised excessively, with gold stars or grades above their age or grade level, tend to have less confidence and less motivation to try new things. This is known as the “praise paradox.”
A lot of pressure is put on parents to praise their children all the time, however, according to Study Author, Eddie Brummelman, a clinical psychologist, “It’s not about the amount of praise we give, it’s about the quality of our praise.”
Instead of praising children for things they haven’t earned, or things that come easy to them, we should praise children for their positive actions and efforts. This will help children understand that their abilities can be developed and that they are capable of more than they think.
According to Study Author, Thomaes S, praising children for their good manners, for example, is more beneficial than praising them for their intelligence.
In conclusion, praise is a powerful influence on children’s development, and it’s important to use it in the right way. We should praise children for their efforts, persistence, and hard work, rather than their innate abilities.
Dangers Of Low Self Esteem
High standards for good behavior are a good thing for children, but low self-esteem can result from too much focus on perfection. A good parent or educator should focus on praising a child’s efforts rather than just their achievements.
According to a study by Exeter University, common praise such as “good job” or “you’re so smart” can have negative consequences on a child’s self-esteem. The study’s author, Eddie Brummelman of Ohio State University, found that children who received unearned praise, such as “good boy” or “good girl” without specific feedback on their actions, had lower self-esteem than those who received positive comments based on their efforts.
This is known as the praise paradox, and it highlights the importance of using praise in a thoughtful and strategic way. Helicopter parenting, where parents spend too much time monitoring and controlling their child’s behavior, can also lead to negative consequences for a child’s self-esteem, especially in high school-aged children.
As first time parents, it’s a good idea to focus on the child’s efforts and be a loving and supportive parent, rather than over-praising them.
In conclusion, it’s important to recognize the effects of praise on our children’s development and well-being. We’ve discussed how overpraising can lead to lower self-esteem and inhibit a child’s growth and creativity. Instead, it’s crucial to provide constructive feedback and foster a growth mindset in our children.
This means praising specific actions or behaviors, emphasizing effort over outcome, and encouraging children to try new and hard tasks.
As parents and educators, it’s important to recognize the difference between effective praise and inflated praise. It’s important to praise children for their efforts and not just for good outcomes.
We should also avoid praising children for things that come easy to them or for things that are beyond their control. We should focus on praising their efforts, which is much more beneficial for children’s self-esteem.
It’s important to remember that as human beings, we all have the capacity to grow and change. We should not treat children as if they are special exceptions to this rule. We should not praise children excessively just because we love them. Instead, we should focus on providing specific feedback, which will help children understand what they did well and what they need to improve on. This is the best way to help them develop a growth mindset.
As Professor of Social Mobility, Stephen Gorard, said, “Praise can have a significant impact on children’s self-esteem, but it has to be done in the right way.” With good intentions and the right strategies, we can be loving parents while also helping our children develop the skills they need to succeed in the world.