Complements That Backfire On Kids

June 19, 2020

© Olesia Bilkei | Dreamstime


There's no instruction manual on how to raise children and seemingly good things we say and do can backfire. For instance, you may think you're building up kids' self-esteem with a compliment, but you may be unintentionally setting them up to struggle. So here's what not to say to avoid the praise trap. Although it may sound good to call your child "so smart" but it can lead them to think of smartness as a fixed behavior. Children think you are born with a certain amount of 'smartness,' and if schoolwork comes easily, then you are smart, and if schoolwork is difficult, then you are not smart. So when they struggle or fail, they will find it that much more discouraging and insurmountable a problem. Instead praise them for hard studies have shown that parental praise for kids' hard work instead of their inherent abilities better develops their perseverance. Saying things like "I am so proud of how hard you worked on your math tells a child that success is due to effort. Praising a child for being "good" places an inherent value on them, rather than on their actions, so they believe themselves to be either "good" or "bad." Every child knows they aren't always "good" and that they have thoughts and feelings you wouldn't like. So if you tell them they're good, they need to show you otherwise by acting bad, or they become heavily invested in keeping you fooled, and they feel like they have to hide their true selves and be perfect, which is even worse. Always refer to the child's actions, rather than evaluating the child themselves. Most parents end up saying "great job" a hundred times a day. However overusing it creates a praise junkie who needs constant reassurance. Overuse of compliments lose their meaning. Also, "great job" isn't specific and doesn't give actual information of what made the job great. Instead, work on recognizing positives. For example, instead of saying, "Good job for setting the table," change it to, "Thank you for helping."

SOURCE: Reader's Digest

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