The Dangers of Confusing Praise with Affection or Gratitude

 

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I don’t praise my kids all the time. Yes, there are times when I should and I don’t. But there are plenty of times that I don’t, and it’s intentional. Because I can affirm and appreciate them, without having to praise them for everything they do. Yes, excessive praise has it’s place (potty training anyone?) but that is temporary. I’ll never forget when my five year old wanted to know if she could have candy for using the potty (we were potty training her younger brother at the time). I explained that no, we don’t give out rewards for age appropriate tasks. Her brother was just learning, so the candy was a special treat for special effort.

Imagine if as adults we expected awards for everything? I mean, yeah, I’d like a cookie every time I use the potty too. (Though in all seriousness, we are seeing the results right now of raising a generation of kids who have been praised and rewarded for everything from being born to basically showing up their entire lives and now as adults, they are confused why the world doesn’t think they are as great as THEY think they are)

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Don’t let this be confused with affection. I love my kids and show them affection because of who they are, not what they do. I express gratitude where appropriate because I want to model it to them. Yes, I can thank them for doing a required task, like putting away laundry or cleaning up toys, because that teaches them the importance of appreciating others. I will also dish out praise when learning a new task or skill because it encourages them to continue to try hard learning new things.

But imagine if we continued to praise our children at the same level for every skill and task forever? I mean, it’s exhausting enough trying to feign enthusiasm that you child is using the potty, can you imagine if I had to keep that up?

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