Praising Children in a Healthy and Balanced Way

04 April, 2019
Praise, in the right amount, can benefit our children. It’s up to us to make sure we avoid praising our children excessively and that, instead, we praise them in a healthy and balanced way.

Praising children for good behavior is important and beneficial for their overall development. Children need to know when they do something well, in the same way that they need to know when they do something wrong.

This allows them to learn to develop in their environment. However, is it right to praise children constantly?

Many parents make the mistake of praising everything their children do. This type of excessive praise, far from benefiting children, can actually end up being harmful.

How? Very simple: it stops them from appreciating what is real and from developing a healthy, critical attitude.

In other words, the validation that they receive on the surface, although it sounds nice, doesn’t motivate children to do better but instead it encourages them to stagnate.

Excessive praise can cause children to think they’re already perfect and that they’ll always have their parents to praise and support them. Clearly, this will affect the development of their personality.

Praising Children in a Healthy and Balanced Way

Is praising our children negative?

You shouldn’t ignore the good things that your children do, nor should you be too strict with your praise. It’s not a matter of limiting praise, but rather it’s about giving it at the correct time.

In fact, telling children when they’ve done a good job, smiling at them when they’ve done something well and applauding their efforts will help them to grow healthily.

You have to act in moderation and try not to praise everything your child does without a specific reason. We have to be very careful what actions we praise and when. If we praise everything they do, we aren’t helping them.

A child that becomes accustomed to constantly receiving praise from the people around them, won’t have a clear perception of reality.

The study carried out by the University of Stanford

A study carried out by the University of Stanford, by a group of experts led by Doctor Carol Dweck, drew up some important results on the topic. The study was based on a social experiment that consisted of giving puzzles to 11-year-olds to solve.

After solving them, each child received the grade and alongside that, a 6-word piece of praise. Later the children were split into groups; Group A, who received praise for their intelligence, and Group B, who were praised for their efforts to complete the puzzle.

Later on, the children were asked how difficult they would like the next task to be. They were given the choice of easy or difficult. And the results from each group were very interesting.

Results and conclusions

In Group A, 2 out of 3 children chose the easy option. However, in Group B, 9 out of 10 children chose the difficult option. The first group of children didn’t want to risk losing the merit of being intelligent, while the second group wanted to see how far their efforts could take them.

Praising Children in a Healthy and Balanced Way

In the third part of the experiment, both groups were given very difficult puzzles, so difficult that none of the children completed it.

However, the children in Group B kept on trying to solve the puzzle for much longer, enjoying the activity without losing confidence in their abilities. The complete opposite was true for the children in Group A.

In the final part of the experiment, other puzzles were given to both groups, the same level as those in the first part of the study. The children from Group A were 20% less successful than they had been previously, while the children from Group B improved by 30%.

This experiment was carried out 3 times with different groups of children, and each time it produced very similar results. Therefore, Doctor Carol Dweck concluded that excessive praise can damage a child’s motivation, and in turn, their performance.

There are other studies based on the impact of excessive praise on children. And although some experts believe that it’s beneficial to praise children often, others argue that praise needs to be given in moderation to avoid encouraging unhealthy attitudes in future adults.