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Are We Praising Too Much?

When you attend any class today, you often hear the teacher say "Well done!" or "that's excellent work" or "Susan is listening so nicely" or "Thank you, Johnny for doing such neat and tidy work."

Is praise a good thing or is it a form of control? Who benefits by praise?

Praising kids would certainly work in the short run as they are hungry for attention and praise. However, using it too often can have damaging effects. Kids need our approval and they need love. They need support and encouragement. But praise shouldn't be used too lavishly. Here's why:

Verbal rewards used to reinforce good behaviour has less to do with the emotional needs of the child you "reward" than your need for convenience. It is therefore used purely to manipulate. The teacher is then exploiting the child's dependence on the need for approval, and is therefore taking advantage of the child's needs to turn it into their favour. Is this not a form of bullying?<

Apart from that, children become reliant on our decisions, our evaluations about what is good and what is bad, rather than learning it for themselves. They become "praise junkies." The more we praise the more kids need it. Children who learn this way are less likely to work something out for themselves and to persist in difficult tasks as they become dependent on approval every step of the way, and lose interest if they don't get it.

Making kids dependent on praise steals their sense of accomplishment as they start doing things to please others instead of finding things out for themselves. Once kids are dependent on positive comments, they feel pressured in keeping it up. The focus is on creating positive comments instead of the work at hand. Their interest declines as they have to concentrate on keeping the positive comments going, instead of satisfying their natural curiosity, It stifles growth, independence, interest and pleasure.

Consider this: Susan is sharing her lunch with a poor student. Would you rather she do it because it is the right thing to do, or because she gets praised for it? What does she learn by being praised? Would you rather your children find a passion for your subject or learn to depend on approval?

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