What do experts really mean when they say "stop praising your kids"?
To praise or not to praise? That is the question. See what experts have to say on the matter!
To praise or not to praise? It seems as though, nowadays, that is the question.
The answer? It's surprisingly not so black and white.
Let's be honest with ourselves for a second: do you really expect to never give your children a pat on the back to commemorate a job well done? Of course you will! So, don't let anyone tell you that praising your children is a bad thing. The problem tends to lie with praising your kids "too much".
So why should we worry about praising our kids "too much"?
According to Katie Hurley – a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, child/adolescent psychotherapist, author, and parenting expert – the reasons why we should refrain from praising too much, stems from the fact that it leads to narcissistic tendencies. One study found that overvaluation by parents resulted in increased narcissism in kids. Yet, that same study also found that parental warmth contributed to high self-esteem.
"Here’s the problem," says Hurley. "In the age of overvaluation of children, self-esteem and praise earned bad reputations. A perceived increase in entitlement in young children caused a backlash. 'Stop praising the children!' quickly became the new battle cry, while the self-esteem movement earned criticism across the board."
But we shouldn't stop praising children all together, right? With moderation, can we not find a safe middle ground? Hurley thinks so, however it takes some better understanding of the important byproducts of praising.
"Self-esteem and narcissism are two very different things," says Hurley. "While narcissistic individuals consider themselves better than others, people with high self-esteem consider themselves equal to others."
"A healthy sense of self just might be the secret sauce that helps them stand up to negative behavior, make positive choices, avoid peer pressure and tackle obstacles with confidence. They also tend to have lower rates of anxiety and depression as they grow," she adds.
Hurley believes that the key to raising kids with healthy self-esteem, and little narcissism, is "parental warmth. In order to establish parental warmth, parents should learn and follow her 4 guidelines!
1. Show the love
'“I love you” and 'I’m proud of you for…' are simple yet powerful statements that show unconditional love without the emotional baggage that tends to come with grand statements about exceptional achievement," says Hurley.
In other words, you don't need to go over the top and use extreme, exaggerated praises to show your kids that you love and care about them. Keep all praises appropriate, and try to express your love through other ways.
2. Stop praising your kids, praise the effort
"When we fill [our children's] minds with superficial praise (e.g. “You’re the smartest one!” or “You’re the best player on the team!”), we actually set them up for disappointment. The hidden pressure within those statements can result in huge feelings of failure and inadequacy when things don’t go as planned," claims Hurley.
Maybe you've heard the saying, "It's not about the destination, rather, the journey to get there." That same logic can be applied to your child.You should praise their hard work that brought them such success as opposed to the achievement itself. It will humble them and help them realise that with effort and hard work, they can achieve their goals, not because they're inherently better than anyone.
3. Celebrate failure
"All too often parents attempt to fix or wipe away failures, so that kids won’t have to experience disappointment. I have some unfortunate news: Kids experience disappointment and failure anyway," says Hurley. "It’s part of growing up. Instead of fixing and avoiding, celebrate and discuss."
If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times: failure is a good thing. Moreover, if you learn and grow from the mistakes and errors you make along the way, then it's not even really a defeat; it's a learning experience.
4. Be empathetic
Kids adore their parents, furthermore, they tend to emulate and idolise them. Keep that in mind. If you want your kids to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem, come down to their level and explain that you were like them, or you were once in their shoes. Hearing that from a role model will do them wonders!
"Listen when your kids need to talk. Hug them when they need comfort. Read to them when they need to check out. Share your own childhood stories to help bridge the gap. Be there for them with empathy and unconditional love," suggests Hurley.
This article was based on a post originally shared on Mom.Me
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