When my firstborn Hannah was a baby, I decided that I needed a discipline philosophy. She was still far too young to have any real behaviour issues, of course, but I knew that one day that would change. So I did some reading. One of the first books that I checked out was Barbara Coloroso’s Kids are Worth It! I enjoyed it immensely, but I also found it challenging. The biggest challenge was what she had to say about praise – basically, that empty praise isn’t good for kids.

I am an extremely praise-dependent individual. I did well in school. I was generally compliant. I didn’t challenge authority. These are the sorts of things that lead adults to praise you, so I received a lot of praise. Praising my own children feels like second nature to me. In my mind, praise is synonymous with love. After all, who doesn’t like to hear how awesome they are? The idea of not praising struck me as cold, and maybe even cruel.

And then I looked at myself a little more closely. I was so accustomed to receiving positive feedback throughout my academic career that I believed something was terribly wrong when someone wasn’t praising me. As a result, I became a pleaser and a perfectionist. I did things to make other people happy and keep the praise coming. If I couldn’t do a task very well, I didn’t even try, because of my need to be good at everything I did.

There are upsides to my classic Type A personality, of course. Nothing in life is all good or all bad. All the same, I wish that my own sense of self-worth wasn’t so defined by others. I wish that I was more willing to experiment and try new things, especially when I was younger. I wish that my need to fit in and garner praise hadn’t limited some of my choices as it did. So I don’t particularly want the same thing for my children, the same dependence on praise.

When I decided to stop using praise, it shocked me to see how much a part of my daily life it was. I said, “Good job!” every few minutes, and not in a conscious way. I praised on auto-pilot. I praised Hannah for sitting on my lap, for listening to a story, for not throwing a block. She was a pre-verbal child, an infant. She didn’t need my praise, and she probably didn’t even understand it. I was praising her simply because I was in the habit.

Deciding to avoid praise doesn’t mean that I never say nice things to my kids. I offer them encouragement when they need it. When they take genuine delight in an accomplishment I say, “Wow, you did it!” or, “Look at you!” I tell them how much I love them many times a day. When Hannah says, “I look pretty, don’t I?” I say, “I always think you’re beautiful, because you’re my child.” I offer my sincere thanks when one of my kids helps me out. I don’t consider myself cold, and I don’t hold back when it comes to sharing joy with my kids.

I am not sure what steering clear of praise has done for my children. Hannah is now 5, and Jacob is only 21 months. Their personalities are still unfolding, and they are nowhere near old enough to re-hash parenting techniques. I hope they don’t share my perfectionism and my need to please. There really are no guarantees in parenting, though, so my choices may or may not influence things in the way I hope. For now, I am just doing the best I can every day. My choice to avoid praise might not be for everyone, but it works for my family. And that’s pretty much the best anyone can hope for, I think.

So, tell me, how do you feel about praise? Do you find it encouraging, or limiting, when someone offers a constant string of compliments? And do you think that praise is a useful parenting technique? Please share!

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  1. Amy West says:

    I am SO on board with this. It was so strange when I started weaning off of the auto-pilot praise. But now, I find it's getting easier and easier to offer what I find to be constructive praise: we don't give blanket praise like "good job"; we praise effort. "You worked really hard to clean those toys up!" or "You kept trying and look, you did it! It's great that you stayed with it!" We want to reinforce effort, not results, because the effort can keep building and grow into further results, if that makes sense. It is definitely weird when we're around other people and the "good job!" is so pervasive. But, she's with us most of the time, so that's a plus.Oh, and I'm a lot like you, probably. I'm very Type A and had the same issues with never putting any effort into things I perceived I wouldn't be good at. That's actually still a problem, lol.

  2. Harriet Fancott says:

    Am I still allowed to say: "Man you are seriously cute!"

  3. Amber Krause Strocel says:

    I tell my kids they're cute and that sort of thing all the time. I think there's a big difference between spontaneously declaring your love / appreciation for them in a way that can't change, and telling them that everything they do is 'good'. You know?

  4. Anne Tegtmeier says:

    Have you guys read "Unconditional Parenting"? I think you'd love it.

  5. It’s funny, I find myself saying ‘good job’ a lot but I try to say it when he needs positive reinforcement. Sometimes he’s looking for negative attention, which I try to down play. So when I steer him in another direction and he does well with moving on, I give him the encouragement and tell him he listened well. I always say “No thank you” if he’s doing something he shouldn’t be either. Because there are a few times when we repremand the cat by saying NO! and J picks up on that. So there have been times when we issue the “No thank you” to the cat as well. I do try to hold back the ‘good job’ and insert a ‘Thank you’ instead. Somehow I hope he’ll feel appreciated which will mean more than knowing he did a good job.
    .-= Sara´s last post ..Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson =-.

  6. Erin Newell says:

    The constant 'Good Job!'ing at playgroups and kid classes gives me twitches.. Josh has started randomly saying it to himself!

  7. Interesting analysis! I liked how you drew it back to your own history. I can already see myself saying “good job” to everything just mindlessly without thinking and I can see how that might undermine a child’s value system over time. If everything he does is a “good job” then what’s the point? Food for later thought.
    .-= the Grumbles´s last post ..are you calling me a liar? =-.

  8. This is a very intresting post. I agree with the Grumbles if everything is a good job then what is the point. I think I will be really thinking about this topic. I am intrested in what other think about this!

  9. I am the exact same way, Amber – extremely praise dependent. In fact, I think part of my very minor PPD was getting used to NOT getting any work-related praise.
    I’ve read similar things about the drawbacks to saying “good job.” As a former preschool teacher it was really hard to break the habit, but I am so glad I did. Now it amazes me to hear parents *everywhere* use good job for *everything.* I’ve heard parents good job a baby for pooping. I’ve heard tons of parents “good job” their kids for eating. It’s just so automatic, it doesn’t mean anything at all.
    Don’t get me wrong – I’ll praise Kieran when he is successful after working hard, or when he does something for the first time – it’s natural! But it feels good for both of us since we don’t overuse it.
    .-= Dionna @ Code Name: Mama´s last post ..Are You Calling Me a Liar? =-.

  10. I read Alfie Kohn’s book Unconditional Parenting almost by accident when Bea was a baby and it totally changed the way I think about motivation. I too was very dependent on praise as a child & young adult, and it took me a REALLY long time to get over my anxieties about what other people thought about me. I feel like I have finally “reset” my internal compass to guide me according to what I believe is right and I care far less about what other people think of my choices. I hope I can teach my children to do the same, and so I do avoid empty praise and endless good jobbing. I try to focus praise on specific actions & effort instead of personality characteristics ie: “You’ve been working hard at that” instead of “you’re so smart”.
    .-= michelle´s last post ..It’s the Little Things That Make it Worthwhile =-.

  11. I feel your pain Amber! I was also a very high achiever as a child and probably came to rely on praise more than I should have. I don’t think of myself as a “Type-A” personality, however I still tend to feel like I need approval from all of my friends/family/partner to know that I’m doing well. For example, my mother told me the other day that I was doing a great job of raising my son (currently 8.5 months old), and I found myself feeling so relieved, because I seemed to be unable to trust my own judgment that I was doing a good job, and needed to hear it from a third party! Not a good trait, I assure you.

    Since my boy is so young I haven’t made a concerted effort to try and avoid using praise yet, although I should probably start. I too read “Kids are Worth It”, and found it very interesting. I wonder though – have you tried to read any of Coloroso’s other books? My mommy-bookclub tried reading “Just because it’s wrong doesn’t make it right”, and maaaan, was it ever a tough slog. (I admit, I didn’t finish it!)
    .-= Anna´s last post ..The first step is the hardest… =-.

    • I actually HAVEN’T read any of Coloroso’s other books. So I’m not sure that my experience would be any better than yours. Sometimes, you just have to give up on some books, I think.

  12. ugh! ‘good job’ is one of the things i hate about modern parenting …….. and, to my total disgust, it goes on in the school system too – even more on auto-pilot. double ugh! what exactly do children gain from this mindless brain syrup? i didn’t get much praise at all in school or at home when growing up. i still did well, you may have noticed that i don’t seek approval (tho’ it is nice to have) and i’m no more screwed or stunted than the next person. i hope i praise genuinely unless sleep deprived, i can also heap praise laden with sarcasm which is prob more my cuppa tea 😉

    PS: may i also say, it’s very North American. i didn’t notice it much in scotland last year.
    .-= pomomama aka ebbandflo´s last post ..only way across =-.

  13. As someone who is also totally praise dependent I share a lot of your views here. I will praise for effort as outcome based praise can lead to perfectionism in my opinion. Also Dharma is very inclined to not try very hard at all, so when she does try hard then I praise the effort.

    I grew up in a totally praise deprived household though. Negatives were reinforced and I think that’s why I became a good student, I was just hoping, wishing that one day I would get praise. Truth is though that my friend’s parents were probably prouder of my A marks than my family.

    As for us, it works.
    .-= Mel´s last post ..And I am back =-.

  14. I am praise-driven as well. Not from my parents so much as a kid, more from teachers. It was so easy to get praise from them and I thrived on that! Entering the workforce I had the terrible realization that a friendly attentive demeanor and a job preformed well were not praise worthy… only pay-cheque worthy. I kept thinking I was doing something wrong, but reality was that I was just doing as expected. I’m surprised I didn’t run back to school to be a perpetual student!

    Sometimes I wonder what all this positive reinforcement “good effort” junk we are expected to constantly spew to our kids is doing to their litle personalities. I hear from my sister (who has to interview and hire people for a big company) that anyone under the age of 30 seems to have a “what’s in it for me” attitiude about work, and it’s hard to find a younger person that actually WANTS a job. It’s like the “good work” phrase is their right now instead of a reward. But then again I can’t think of anything better.

    I am happy to see I am not the only one that is cautious about over-praising…. it’s dangerous unchartered territory, but I’m willing to go against the grain on this one.
    .-= *pol´s last post ..I’m BAAAAACK! =-.

  15. This is a topic near to my heart. Something I mull over regularly. I was a praise-hog as well as a kid – and still am today, as much as I try to break out of it. Its demotivating to be so externally-motivated sometimes and I don’t want that for my kids.
    But habits are hard to break.
    I DO like “you did it!” or choosing something specific about their activity on which to comment, “You made that line very straight” but sometimes I feel so robotic and labored with my responses – like I’m over-thinking them when Good Job flows off the tongue. Ugh.
    Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional parenting isn’t an easy read… but it brings up some good points; if you haven’t read it, give it a try.
    Here’s an article by him, as well:
    Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!”
    .-= kelly (@kblogger)´s last post ..Birth: Things I Did Differently =-.

  16. I was turned onto this idea after reading Alfie Kohn’s Unconditional Parenting. I found it very enlightening to become aware of it and then the pendulum sort of swung and I found myself at a happy medium. I try not to over accentuate praise and just be normal. “Thanks for sweeping. I really appreciate it when you help out.”

    I try to say thank you a lot versus good job. The good job is out of control. I’ve caught myself saying it for the most random things.

  17. I’m not huge on the praise. I do it sometimes but more because it looks like my kids are expecing me to compliment them on whatever they have done. Amelia’s big thing right now is to say “I did it!” after almost anything, especially when it involves removing clothing (yay)
    .-= Carrie´s last post ..Lions and Tigers and Bears…OH MY! =-.

  18. I suppose there is a middle path between being praise-driven and being totally oblivious to other people’s feedback. Which I think is what you are saying. If you respond to praise, than you are at least showing social awareness.

    That said, it take most women until their 50s to get over the need to please others. So let’s stop the trend earlier!
    .-= harriet Fancott´s last post ..Real parents; real children =-.

  19. Oh, some good points here.
    I do well with praise and recognition. And because I know how I am, I certainly don’t want my girls to feel valued based on the amount of praise that they receive or don’t receive.
    Before I had my girls, I was introduced to Barbara’s Kids Are Worth It as one of my school textbooks. I LOVED it then and still continue to use it in my own parenting and work. Because I used it for work for so long before I had my kids, I didn’t recognize my own use of her ideas until I started to notice that I cringe every time I heard my husband or a grandparent say “good job” or “good girl” to our own kids. It does sound like an empty and useless statement to me. I do love to acknowledge my girls’ achievements or behaviours with hugs or more specific statements about what I notice them doing.
    I haven’t really picked up other books or read very much into developing other ideas, but I know that I have a great group of fantastic mom friends who model so many great parenting strategies for me to think about and perhaps adapt.
    Posts like this one get my “maternity leave brain” thinking again. Thank you!

    Although I have not looked into it yet myself, I am hearing nothing but “praise” ; ) about Gordon Neufeld’s Power To Parent series.

    .-= Kristin´s last post ..A Love List =-.

  20. Hey Amber – great post. I kind’ve agree and disagree. I think useless praise like “good job” isn’t helpful because really what does it mean and what are you instilling? But I think active praise of a process or a specific is helpful – good effort, good walking, good trying, helpful doing, etc.

    Have you read Nurtureshock? It amazed me and they focus on praise very specifically there too – the idea is that if you tell a child how smart they are when they come face to face with something that challenges them they tend to shut down and underperform because they don’t want to appear “not smart” (Like you not trying things for fear of failure). Was a hugely brain opening book for me with regards to parenting!

  21. I am the same way. As a child I yearned for smiley faces drawn in the 100’s on my tests and lots of happy stickers. Now I love compliments on everything I do. Many times it’s what keeps me motivated, which is wrong. I graduated college with honors but with very few creative accomplishments, which I now realize I value more. After reading a blog post by a friend ( I finally realized I was setting up Suzi to be like this, too. I began to evaluate my reactions when she holds up a picture for me to see, or when she does something I like. I have found that just because I don’t use praise for every little thing doesn’t mean I’m less involved, like you said. And sometimes I still slip up. It’s only natural. When Suzi and I visit my mom and she draws a picture, my mom goes all googly-eyed and tells her it’s BEAUUUUTIFUL. (I am not about to stop her, by the way. I’m working on myself and picking my battles with the grandparents.) I wonder how old kids get before they realize it’s not as BEAUUUUUTIFUL as their well-meaning elders are letting on. No one likes being patronized, and it may lead kids to wonder about the trustworthiness of these doting adults. Anyway, this is how I grew up; change happens in baby steps.
    .-= Jenny´s last post ..I cut my own hair (with pictures) =-.

  22. I feel the same way, Amber. I have tried so hard to say things like “I can tell you worked hard on this…” or “Look at all the colors you used…” — commenting on their effort, not necessarily the result. Every once in awhile I catch myself saying “good job!” though, like a bad habit, and it makes me cringe. Good topic. 🙂
    .-= Missy´s last post ..Skype: the new playdate =-.

  23. This is something that I constantly find myself struggling with, auto-pilot praise seems to fall out of my mouth. An article that I read ages ago really spoke to me, Po Bronson’s How Not to Talk to Your Kids, was a real eye opener for me. I’m also working my way through Unconditional Parenting in my spare time.

    I look at how addicted I am to praise, how if I perceive that something is hard I won’t even try; and I’m worried that I will pass this on to my kids. So I’m not only trying to stop the empty praise but I’m working on moving out of my comfort zone and trying new things and giving myself permission to try and if I succeed yay and if I fail, well then at least I tried! I have to say that I find changing my behaviour extremely hard. Hrm, perhaps this would be best examined on my blog instead of leaving an enormous rambling comment here 🙂

  24. I’ve read this several places, and I think I need to read some of these books that everyone is referencing! Preferably before my baby gets to a stage where lots of discipline is called for (right now, it’s more like, “don’t do that, you’ll hurt yourself!” and it’s questionable whether he understands that).

    I don’t think of myself as particularly praise-obsessed myself, and yet, I like to receive praise for a job well done. Obviously, it’s only meaningful if it’s aimed at something I’ve actually done, and isn’t generic and meaningless, but I don’t know if saying “good job” is a bad thing. One thing I love about my current boss is that he gives me constructive criticism, but he is also really good at remembering to say “this was good” when it was good. I’ve had bosses who only criticized. Let me tell you, I value constructive criticism, but a little praise and appreciation, it’s what makes me say, “I love my job.”

    Just so I understand: you’re not saying don’t praise your kids for doing a good job, you’re saying, don’t praise them all the time, for no good reason?

    I definitely need to read up on this. Thank you for your post!!

    • What I’m saying is that I don’t provide empty praise, or evaluate my kids’ work. If they enjoyed drawing a picture, it doesn’t matter if I think it’s good or not. I want them to draw because they enjoy drawing, not to please me.

      If one of my kids drew a picture I might talk about what I see, or ask them if they enjoyed drawing. I’m engaging with them, not just saying, “Good colouring!” That would be a meaningless compliment, and it deflects the attention from the colouring towards my evaluation. I see the same thing on the playground. A kid slides down the slide and clearly enjoys it, and a parent says, “Good sliding!” The praise is unnecessary, and deflects from the kid’s enjoyment to the parent’s evaluation. I might say, “Yay!” or, “That looked like fun!” instead.

      My children will be evaluated by teachers and employers and so on. I think that’s fine. But I don’t need to constantly evaluate and provide positive feedback, especially when it comes to basic tasks that they are assigning themselves. If your boss lets you know that you did a great job on a tough project, that’s awesome. If he walked by your desk and called out, “Great sitting!” that would just be weird. But if I’m not conscious, I issue those kinds of ‘good sitting’ compliments to my kids ALL THE TIME.

      • Thank you so much for the clarification, I think I understand a little better now. I think the challenge for me would be not evaluating the work! I am a critical person. Mostly in the good sense of that word, I hope (as in, I don’t believe everything I read, and I like to think about things). You know, I’m a lawyer, and we evaluate, evaluate, weigh, weigh, and judge. It’s what we do!

        But I can see how perhaps you don’t want your mom always taking that role!

        The “good sitting!” thing cracked me up. Yeah, it would be a little creepy if my boss told me that I was sitting just great. Okay, no – REALLY CREEPY. 😉

        I will definitely read some of these books.

        Thanks again!
        .-= Inder´s last post ..Dust Bowl Overalls? =-.

  25. I’m a little knee-jerk prickly over this one, even though I generally agree what I’ve read about it. I agree that instilling a sense of entitlement in young people and mindless praise are bad, but I don’t think the odd ‘good job’ is going to scar my kid forever either. I did read one of the articles emphasizing saying ‘you worked really hard on that’ or ‘I like how you kept trying to figure that out’ rather than ‘you’re so smart’, but the odd time I can’t resist telling my daughter she’s a really great artist, because I think she is, or my son that he’s a good athlete, because he is. I don’t tell her that she’s a great athlete after a baseball game, I tell her she got some good hits if she did. So I basically agree with you, but I feel bitchy about it. Probably a subject for a post all its own. Maybe it’s just all the people telling us how to parent. Even when they’re right sometimes it gets annoying.
    .-= allison´s last post ..****************Ack =-.

  26. I find it so hard…..I must have broken my kids. My kids expect rewards for the basics and I don’t know where this came from as I am not a reward person. I praise for genuine good things…like thanks for helping with the baby..thanks for being patient….trying to show them how to be a good person more than anything…..I don’t think I got a huge amount of praise myself….except for maybe being quiet!!!

    Maybe being quiet is very important to me

  27. Wow! You have no idea how much that post IS me. And I suppose I need to check out this book you are referring to. I am wondering, though, now that you have sort of limited the praising/ or the way you praise, your kiddos- how has it affected YOU in terms of needing praise? Because I totally feel like a failure, at work- at home- at hobbies, if someone is not praising what I’ve done. It seems almost like an addiction. And though I don’t know how much you go out of your way to receive praise, I’m quite glad that you shared how important it has been to you.

    Also, the part about “I didn’t challenge authority. These are the sorts of things that lead adults to praise you, so I received a lot of praise.”- that’s the part about myself I’ve always wanted to change most.
    .-= Jennifer´s last post ..Clean Slate =-.

    • Realizing how strongly I depend on praise has helped me to work out some of my own issues. It’s not exactly a magic bullet, but it has helped me, for sure. I can recognize when I get caught up in that loop of needing positive feedback, and that helps me to maintain perspective. Sometimes. A little. 🙂

  28. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about the possibility of having too much praise. I suppose that’s because it’s completely outside my frame of reference. I actually find myself making a conscious effort to praise my kids. I am always fighting to take note of the good so I can downplay the bad in the hopes that our house is quieter and more pleasant to be in. I doubt I over-praise. I will have to pay attention.
    .-= Marilyn´s last post ..Sand in Pants: Wednesday of Few Words =-.

  29. I love the way you write about this topic… not in a ‘one and only right way and everyone else is wrong’ kind of way but in a personal, ‘what works for me’ kind of way that really illustrates deeper thinking and understanding on this topic and a personal, individual choice for you family….

    I share your view on praise… hollow praise means nothing and takes no effort to give. Genuine love, interest, warmth and thanks offer so much more for everyone.
    .-= katepickle´s last post ..Kids and Learning – Let Go and Create! =-.

  30. Natasha says:

    I’m an elementary school teacher (an old friend of Erin’s, which is why I’m reading your blog). I was raised on Barbara Coloroso’s philosophy, so I had a bit of a head start on the language.

    It’s hard to remember to acknowledge the achievements in a way that put the child in charge of it.

    I notice children who are used to being praised. They will ask me for praise in interesting ways. They say things like “Isn’t my picture beautiful?” and “I’m really smart, aren’t I?”

    Sometimes I do throw out those empty “Nice Job” comments, but I try to be aware of what I’m saying. Maybe by the time i have kids of my own I’ll have practiced enough to have those replaced in my vocabulary 🙂 Probably not though.

    I’ve been enjoying your blog. Thanks!

  31. I have actually had to learn to praise my kids. Generally, in this country there’s a tendency towards “positive criticism” , and giving kids a lot of praise is considered “spoiling”.
    .-= Francesca´s last post ..Corner View ~ collection =-.

  32. I am *way* too dependent on praise – and I don’t know if it will change any time soon. I hope it does!

    That said, I do praise my son – but I can totally see how it would feed into need for praise in the future.

    Quick! Someone praise me for being a good mom! haha

    Thanks Amber!
    .-= Susan´s last post ..Sporting a DIY pinwheel pin from Vancouver’s Spool of Thread =-.

  33. I think I probably overpraise, but I try to make it about something measureable, or instead say, “Thank you for clearing your plate promptly.”

    A related note – I’ve read that kids who are praised for their work effort instead of for being smart learn to continue to try and end up succeeding more often.
    .-= Lady M´s last post ..And Now I Need To Make a Lab Coat =-.

  34. Really great post Amber, especially since I can relate to being dependent on praise myself. I completely agree that empty praise is not doing our kids any favors, but it’s so hard to break that “good job” habit. I love all the comments because I’m getting some good ideas on how to use praise constructively.
    .-= Fran´s last post ..Chemicals Are Worse Than Dirt For Your Crawling Baby =-.

  35. Meagan Francis says:

    I think that as with everything else, as you point out, there is a middle ground. I've read some opinions that are so anti-praise as to say you should never say "good job" or "way to go", which I also disagree with. In moderation, praise is useful, but when you over-do it, it loses its meaning.Some kids also just aren't as intrinsically motivated as we would like them to be and for those kids, praise and rewards can be a powerful incentive. The trick, I guess, is nurturing that intrinsic motivation so that it becomes stronger over time.

  36. I love posts that get me thinking. I read this post yesterday but didn’t know what to say. After thinking about it on and off throughout the day, I have something to say now 🙂

    Like you, I find that I’m a people pleaser too. I did well in school and a lot of other things I tried my hands on. As a result, I got a lot of praise and it just fuelled my desire to do better and better. It’s gotten to the point that people expect me to be perfect and cannot imagine I ever needing help. At the same time, I am afraid to ask for help and have forced myself to be as independent as possible. Ok, it’s not always like this but when it comes to my personal life, it often is. But I can’t blame that on just praise.

    I became a perfectionist partly because of the praise I received growing up. There are many other reasons too. For instance, I hate to disappoint people. I don’t like it when people criticize me and some times I take it quite hard. Growing up, I got criticized a lot from my family. I guess the opposite thing happened to me. Even now, there is a lack of praise in my family. I’m not sure if being the fourth child had to do with it. Whenever something is good, nobody says anything but if something is bad, boy, will you hear them complain! Yeah, we’re that kind of family 🙁 So in my family, there was a lack of praise when I was growing up but I still ended up being a perfectionist. I am a perfectionist with a low self-esteem.

    When it comes to children, I think they need praise and can benefit from it. I guess the question is more like when is it appropriate to praise children? When they need encouragement riding a bike or during a vaccination. In these cases, praise as much as you can! Sitting on your lap while listening to you read a story, I would say no. But if your child often misbehaves and sitting quietly while you read is good behavior, then yes. But I agree with you, too much praise is probably bad.
    .-= mommyingaround´s last post ..What daycare has given baby and me =-.

  37. When I first read about the “anti-praise” theory, I found it a bit odd, but then I started listening. And it was bizarre. Parents and those who work with young kids praise children for the most ridiculous things: good standing, good clapping, good pooping, good crawling. These are natural things that (almost) every child learns to do. They don’t warrant verbal praise! Yes, be proud of your child on the inside for achieving their milestones, but if a child hears this all the time they WILL internalize it. I feel like I face the effects of this at the other end. I teach law students and I am truly stunned at their sense of entitlement and the presumption that I will heap praise upon them. I will reward good work when I see it, but to earn praise (as opposed to encouragement, which I’m more than happy to dole out) you actually have to do something praiseworthy!

  38. Such a thoughtful post. I had heard about the pitfalls of empty praise before, but I’d never gotten around to thinking about it in my own parenting strategy. But after I read this, I have been noticing that I give my 15 month old a lot of empty praise. Definitely something I’ll rethink now.
    .-= Sarah´s last post ..A Great Reader =-.

  39. I was about to write “Great post!” and then I wondered if that was the wrong kind of praise! Thank you for a though-provoking post. I, too, am highly dependent on praise. However, in my teacher training, I came across Barbara Coloroso’s ideas about praise. It’s challenging to change your habits, but I do my best to focus on appreciating the details of my daughter’s art (colour, line direction) rather than saying, “That’s beautiful!”
    .-= Holly´s last post ..My Blogger’s Quilt Festival Quilt =-.

  40. Found myself nodding the whole way through this post. Thank you for the reminder.
    .-= Christie – Childhood 101´s last post ..The ABC of Child Care: S is for… =-.

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  1. […] aspect of my Parenting Style is that I avoid empty praise. This doesn’t mean that I don’t encourage my kids, or give feedback when appropriate, […]

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