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post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Is there such a thing? When my step-sister was little I noticed my step-mom heavy with the praise - for weird stuff, it used to drive me nuts "Good saying 'thank-you' honey!" "Good asking!" "Good listening!" "Good" this, good that - all the time! Now she was over the other day and I heard her say to our dd (who is 5 mo!) "Good sneezing!" I know it beats never praising, but isn't this a bit much? Shouldn't a kid have somewhat normal conversations and interactions? Any thoughts?
post #2 of 15
In my opinion (which as we know, counts for everything) over praise results in the devaluation of all praise. I'm not saying that praise should be doled out in stingy little morsels, but it should *mean* something! And I think children know when it does mean something, and when it's just spun sugar.

It's all about sincerity.
post #3 of 15


Right on Pallas. Praise has its place. Maybe in grandma's case she's just so used to saying "good everything" that its more of an involuntary habit than a thoughtful comment.
post #4 of 15
My MIL is an "over-praiser" and has been forever, because my husband remembers it from when he was a kid. Anything he did was just the most wonderful, amazing, extraordinary, you get the picture. As a result, he says her compliments mean nothing to him now.
post #5 of 15
I agree! Kids know the difference. My DD was drawing one day, I was quite distracted so when she showed it to me I said "OH that's a great picture!" She looked at me very sternly and said "That is not a good picture! This is my good picture!"(holding up another one) She was insulted that I didn't know the differnce!
I also think over-praiese makes kids do things for the compliment rather than the pleasure they get out of a doing something well.

post #6 of 15
I agree with everyone above. Peggy, the story about your DD made me laugh. I think it is also important to be specific when you praise children (or anyone for that matter), ex. instead of saying oh what a great story you wrote you could say "I really like the way you described....." or whatever fits the situation.
post #7 of 15


I was definitly guilty of over-praising my five year old. It did become habit to say "great this or that." Then I read something where kids start to wonder if you think they are stupid or incapable, especially when I would say with awe "great sneezing or whatever. They start to wonder if you have any confidence in their abilities at all. Now I really try to tone it down and sometimes say in a moderate tone, "great, I knew you could do that," hoping to counteract some of the past praising fevor.
post #8 of 15
I am a full-on overpraiser. I just get so excited over everyting ds does. I need to mellow out or he'll end up dissappointed w the rest of the world....
post #9 of 15
I agree that overdoing the praise comes across as insincere, and it can also create insecurity because a child will always look to others for their approval. I try to help dd praise herself: "You got dressed all by yourself; you must feel so proud to be growing up!"

Also, as a teacher, I absolutely believe in describing what a child has done well rather than indiscriminate praise. I believe that when we see a child's painting and say, "I see you used lots of bright colors for the flowers, and what happy smiles you drew on those butterflies!" the child walks away feeling proud of herself, even though we never used words like "good," "beautiful," or "Picasso"! Great stuff on this, btw, in "How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen..." - that book is my all time parenting BIBLE!!!!!!
post #10 of 15
This whole thread is really interesting, and strongly reminiscent of everything Dr. Daniel Greenburg has written on the subject of emancipated learning and respect for children.

There is even an example of a child checking for "reality" at SVS when she arrives by showing her picture to the art teacher (sorry, art staff )

In my ESL school, any judgmental work I allow the children to judge. They soon learn that I will accept anything they say is good. I never judge. The result is that although initially they are happy to dump all kinds of stuff on my lap as "finished", they soon become their own sevearest critics!

Boy! I could tell some stories!

post #11 of 15
Right. I am reading the Continuum Concept, Alexander, and Liedloff makes similar points.

I just hope I haven't 'ruined' Spanky by being to generous with the praise. Everything he does just THRILLS me! I get so excited! Well, what if I just stop praising his developments and efforts? Won't that throw him? And what about everyone else that does it in his life? I can't make them stop. Arrgghhh... ARGH!
post #12 of 15
In trying to control how the rest of the world intereacts with my children (ok - I am a little compulsive) I limited my efforts to our close family - grandparents and aunts/uncles of the children.

I asked my parents and in-laws to "help me" by limiting their compliments to positive behavior.....I knew they'd love to praise up their grandsons/nephews, so I asked that it be for things I felt mattered.

Specifically, I asked them not to praise the boys for being "cute", "handsome" "good-looking" or other such superficial (IMO) traits.....instead, notice and comment when they are cooperative, helpful, considerate, polite, responsible, etc. This only served to make me seem even more of a control-freak/wacko than before....but they all have pretty much done as I asked.

I try not to overdo it with my enthusiam, mostly because I want my little ones to learn to be pleased with themselves, and to acheive for their own self-satisfaction. But it is hard, 'cause of course they are brilliant, and everything they do IS wonderful!

BTW - the "good sneezing" comment from grandma is too funny - reminds me of the time DH was so proud of weeks old Jadon for his great pooping.....
post #13 of 15


I agree with alot of what you said Melody

I actually believe its quite insulting to over praise. Children are innately social, they do what their species do, to point that out (sneezing or listening for Gods sake PLEEEEEEEZ) can really affect a childs esteem. The ordinary things are just that, even the cute stuff I think I have to be mindful of. I prefer to say things like "I really love that" or "wow i think what you did is wonderful" than overdoing it.

When my ds does something that he looks jazzed about, I validate it with delight (I mean I adore him to bits) even my partner has caught himself calling him a good boy and looked at me and said "you know I have to stop saying that, it feels really wrong"
I agree with him. Id never tell my ds he is bad or done a "bad" thing so using words like "good" can possibly be just as harmful perhaps.
Anyway, cheers everyone
post #14 of 15
Being a fake parent has other side effects too. Like parents that just keep telling their kids to "stop doing this" or "don't do that".... Noisy isn't it. And kids tune out.

post #15 of 15
Has anybody read "Punished by Rewards" by Kohn? It has an entire chapter on praise, which backs up with research exactly what peacemama said about offering specific feed back instead of praise.

My kids and I have always done a lot of art work at home and I have taken this approach. Now we are in a pottery class with other moms and kids and listening to the other moms drives me crazy. It is also odd to watch how some of the kids are more concerned that their peice looks really good rather than that they are the ones who work on it, so they prefer their moms to do the work for them. My kids, on the other hand, don't want me to touch their pieces and love their own work. (It is my job to make sure that they are put together well enough that they won't fall apart during firing, so have I touch them a little)

I think saying something is "good" is passing a judgement just as saying it is "bad" would be passing a judgement, and that the less we pass judgement on what they do, the better.
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