Take it down a notch
Every parent wants to instill their children with self-confidence, to raise them with the belief that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to, and that their potential is unlimited. But it turns out that constant praise is not the best way to go about it, and may, in fact, have detrimental consequences.
Kissing your kid’s butt with “overinflated” praise is not only annoying but it can have the opposite effect on them.
Score one for dads like me who are stingy with the praise. I told you, honey!
According to NBC News, a study in the journal Psychology Today found that kids who “received hyped compliments” from adults tended to be reluctant to attempt tougher tasks. Those kids, whose parents praised in efforts to boost their self-esteem, became nervous about matching the high standard set forth by the over-the-top compliments.
The study was conducted in the Netherlands and looked at 1000 adults and 500 kids, videotaping them to monitor what happened when parents tried to support the kids they thought had low confidence by giving them major props for minor accomplishments.
The parents were recorded interacting with their children for five minutes, and it was noted that if they felt their kid had low self-confidence, they were far more effusive with their praise, thinking it might help boost them. But it had the opposite effect.
Researchers captured them praising their kids an average of six times during those five minutes, with a fourth of those compliments registering as “inflated,” using adverbs to add to it, i.e., “You answered that incredibly fast!” Such effusive praise proves stifling to kids, who suddenly feel pressure to live up to the hype and tended to shy away from harder tasks that would be less likely to pay off.
If we want our kids to challenge themselves and grow their self-confidence organically, we’re better off keeping compliments simple, gently praising them without laying it on too thick. Clearly, they know better.
Once again, it seems that your best efforts can backfire, which is a pretty good summation of the parenting experience in general. Can’t win, don’t try!