How to Overpraise Your Kids (not recommended)

February 5, 2014

In my ongoing effort to build my girls' confidence, I ask them regularly what's one brave thing you did today? The hope being of course that they learn to recognize even the smallest feats. But yesterday, I was the one learning a lesson. When I asked my usual question, my oldest replied "nothing really" and I instantly started searching for possibilities to hand them. I decided to capitalize on the only extraordinary thing we had done that day…going to the theater. And I said "well, you went to see a new movie other than Frozen (yes we’ve seen it three times…) And you carried the popcorn all the way for the first time in the dark and didn’t spill!" (really grasping) As usual, Maggie kept me on my toes. "Mom, doing NEW things isn't the same as doing BRAVE things.” Hmm, I thought. Is that true? And I started to start to defend myself. But you know, I think she’s right. New and brave may be one and the same sometimes but not always. Really, a brave act is when you’re at least a little bit scared. By this definition, seeing a new movie and carrying popcorn definitely don’t qualify. But the bigger lesson I learned is how kids have the ability to see right through our empty praise! And especially when it’s for normal or expected behavior. Kids really only want credit where credit is due. In fact, false praise could even have the unintended consequence of lowering their expectations of themselves and I don’t want to do that. So here’s to kids teaching us lessons, to the brave and not so brave things, to knowing the difference and to accepting that neither have to happen every day. 

 

What did your kid teach you today??​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

 

 

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