Praising your kids: where to draw the line?

Kids love to be told how wonderful they are and how proud we are of them. But when praising kids, there’s more on the line than just boosting their self-esteem. A lot of parents struggle with finding the appropriate balance when it comes to praising their children. How much is too much? How much is too little? By awarding heaping amounts of praise, parents think they are building their kid’s confidence and self-esteem, when, in fact, it may be just the opposite.

With no secret formula, experts say understanding the where, when and how of praising is an important tool in raising confident kids with a healthy sense of self-esteem. But too much praise can backfire. When praising in a way that’s insincere, kids become afraid to try new things or take a risk for the fear of not being able to stay on top of where their parent’s praise has put them. If you too are facing the issue of finding the right balance while praising your kids, Kumon, one of the best after-school programs, has listed below the correct ways of praising children.

Look them in the eyes while praising

The way you praise your children is more important than the words you are using. A warm and nurturing tone while making eye contact is an effective technique to use while talking to your kids. Whenever possible, get down to their level, face to face, while praising them. This type of interaction increases a kid’s confidence.

Also, taking the name of your child during the conversation increases the effectiveness to a whole different level. When we call their name and look into their eyes, kids remember and comprehend more words and it also helps you focus on your child while talking.

Be genuine and specific

Apart fr0m saying “You are a good cricketer”, say “You hit that ball really hard with that shot”. Being specific allows kids to realise their special qualities and skills and they understand what exactly they’ve done well.

Being specific while praising sounds a lot more genuine. Kids have a way of understanding when your compliment is sincere and when it’s not. When they don’t believe your words to be positive, they become insecure and distinguish the difference between whether you really mean it or not.

Don’t overdo it

When you overdo it while praising, you lose your credibility. You can say, “I love that drawing” or “good job” so many times until they don’t mean anything. Therefore, be specific about what you’re saying, such as “What a beautiful colour combination you chose” or “You did a good job with colouring every corner of that picture”.

These types of descriptive compliments give your kid an idea of why he earned your approval. Also, be sure that your action merits praise. Kids can differentiate between hollow praise and genuine compliment.

Pay attention to little things

Children thrive on attention as it makes them feel nurtured. You can boost your kid’s ego just by describing or commenting on what they’re doing. They will take it as a compliment or praise. Say, “Thank You for brushing your teeth without being said”. Your attention to the little details of your child’s day-to-day activities will make them feel special.

Praise the process

It is best to focus your praise on the child’s effort and how they accomplished something. Say, “You have worked really hard to finish your homework. When you got frustrated, I like the way how you did not give up but kept trying other ways until you figured out the solution”. Do not over-focus on the school grade your child earned. Often, kids who are too invested in their achievements avoid activities that are involved in the process.

Practice moderation

When it comes to rewarding your child, less may be more. If you constantly praise your kid’s behaviour, he may feel like he is only doing it to get a reward. Studies show social rewards such as praise and status activate the same parts of the brain as monetary rewards that include bribes and paychecks. Just like a professional athlete earning millions loses the love of the game, your kid’s intrinsic desire can be suppressed by too much praise.

Wrapping It Up

Praising is wonderful, but overdoing it can cause problems, especially as a child get used to it and take it for granted. While praise is a great way of developing confidence, too much of it has the opposite effect. It can also make the child conceited.

Celebrate your child as she grows into the human being she is, but don’t hesitate to let her know if she did something wrong. Help her to build strong self-esteem while bonding with her in the process.

Kumon is among the best after school English programs and the largest enrichment program in India. They help students master self-learning methods and encourage them to discover different ways to solve problems by themselves. For more information on the Kumon Method of Learning, visit our official website.