I’ve just read the Netmums discussion, entitled “Are you raising a praise junky?” and I would like to say that YES I am and I am proud to be doing so!
The discussion explains that
“Latest research suggest that over praising your child can make them emotionally resilient and damage their self-estemm, writes Professor Tanya Byron in The Times. She says parents today are raising a generation of ‘praise junkies’ as they applaud and celebrate their every achievement.”
While I agree that OVER praising children can have a negatove effect- as there are chances they would then grow up to be unable to accept failure. Or coming second. Or not winning a race at sport’s day. Or being a sore loser- surely there is nothing wrong with SOME praise of ALL achievements? Ignoring a child’s achievment is like telling them they need not have bothered at all. Who are we to pick and choose which achievment is worth celebrating or not? Sometimes just a ‘well done’ can go so far.
The discussion is a response to a Times article, which you can read here.
Apparently, there are “five rules of praise. We should be specific about what we are praising, be sincere, be strategic, be sparing and focus on efforts as well as achievements.”
In my opinion, all four of these make perect sense. Perhaps it is the teacher in me but I am always going to have high expectations of my children so that they are inspired to reach for the top. Therefore, when they reach ‘their top’ (whether it is tying a shoe lace or running a marathon) I will never be sparing with my congratulations! Even if ony for the briefest of occasions, I want my children to know that they achieved something!!!
As a teacher, positive praise works so well. Never underestimate the power of a sticker. Sometimes you need no words at all- just reach over and place a sticker on a child’s jumper and they just know they have achieved something. There are some children in my class who go home each night practically COVERED in stickers and pockets bulging with notes home from the ‘praise pad’- but each and every achievment was deserved!
There has to be a limit; I appreciate that. There needs to be a point where an achievment needs to be extended. I won’t applaude like a lunatic each and every time my child manages to tie her shoe laces. I will let her know that the achievment of doing so now has to move on to an attempt to acheive something more. That way, she is always moving on. And isn’t that what positive praise is all about anyway? A child who is told their efforts are fruitless (either by words or by silence) is a child who will give up even trying.
So, yes I probably am raising a praise junky. But I’m also raising polite, kind and considerate children too. They may like to win and to achieve something, but they also accept that they can’t do everything straight away and that sometimes there has to be another winner. Is that so wrong?