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The scary truth about praising kids

There is a right way and a wrong way to praise kids. Done correctly, your child develops a strong sense of self-worth, however when your “overpraise” your child, their sense of self becomes skewed and they blame others for their failures. Therapist Dyan Eyebergen gives tips on building your child’s self worth through the correct use of praise.

Mother praising son over homework

When we praise our children in a way that only focuses on what they have done – “You are wonderful for getting your homework finished” – instead of in a way that separates
the child from what they have done – “I really appreciate that you got your homework out of the way as soon as you got home from school” – we deprive them of their natural
incentive to do well or to do what is right.

They become conditioned to expect praise and deny their intrinsic sense of doing something because it feels good. They develop a definition of who they are based on what they do and begin to think
that they only matter in life when they gain the attention and approval of others. Their being a “wonderful” person is only true when they have received praise for having done something
worthy of someone else’s admiration.

The danger of artificial praise

Artificially praising our children, so as to save hurt feelings, also has its detriments. When a child is not doing well at something and we tell him/her she is doing “great” anyway,
the child does not gain an accurate sense of his/her strengths and limitations.

Children who have been praised in this fashion learn to have over-inflated views of “who” they are and will blame others for their disappointments. They can’t possibly take
responsibility for their own mishaps; they have been conditioned to ignore failure.

How can you build self-confidence in your child, without overpraising?

Next page: 5 tips to build self-confidence in kids

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