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8 Things To Remember When You Want To Praise Your Children

8 Things To Remember When You Want To Praise Your Children

Are you praising your child too much? Is there a risk that he or she might become a narcissist? According to some studies, this is what happens when parents tend to go overboard with their praise. Parents may think that they are building the child’s self-esteem but that is not borne out by the studies. But the right kind of praise can be powerful for motivating kids. Here are 8 things to keep in mind when you want to praise your kids so that they grow up with a healthy self-esteem.

“People with high self-esteem think they’re as good as others, whereas narcissists think they’re better than others.”- Brad Bushman (co-author of the above study).

1. Avoid general blanket statements of praise.

Telling your kid that she is a clever girl or that he has done a great job is risky. You need to be more specific. Focus on the effort she put into it. Your kid’s team may not have won the match but you were really impressed with the effort he put in. He played well and that was also because he practised a lot. It is better to say, “Your practice paid off because I saw you hitting that ball really hard.” This is much better than making a rather weak, “Pity your team lost.” This is focusing on the negative outcome and not making any reference to all the hard work and sweat.

2. Make sure the praise is sincere.

It was a difficult job and the kid did well so that deserves praise. If you praise the child for every little mundane task, then this is counterproductive and may not sound sincere. The danger here is that the child may not risk trying new challenges because she may fail and she may lose her champion status! There is another problem in that the child must always get the parent’s approval and this is very limiting.

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3. Don’t offer cash incentives.

Money may be a motivator but if the child grows up thinking that life is like the stock exchange, we are missing out on instilling values such as gains in self-esteem following success. Also, this could become expensive if cash is the only reward for doing well! A much better idea is to celebrate with a treat, outing or a special meal because you are also sharing in the success. It is the hard work and persistence we want to reward, rather than making easy cash.

4. Don’t overdo the child’s talents.

Praising a child’s good looks, intelligence or artistic ability on a regular basis is really overdoing it. If the child always hears “You’re a born musician”, then he or she assumes that not much effort is needed to improve. The child may also tune it out because it has been repeated too often. It becomes meaningless.

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5. Praise must be geared towards new objectives.

The aim of praise is to encourage and motivate towards achieving new goals and milestones. One of the best ways of doing this is to mark steps in progress. You can say, “You’ve really improved in Math since last semester. You should be proud of that.” You can then remind your kid of the next hurdle which may be another test or exam.

6. Stop showing off about your child.

If your child hears you bragging about his or her achievements (Isn’t Maria the best speller you’ve ever seen?”), it puts unnecessary pressure on your kid to be always the best, always at the top of the class. That can be negative and also creates an over competitive environment among children. Inevitably, they will sometimes fail or do less well and that may have a negative effect on their motivation. In addition, the child is lulled into a false sense of security which defeats the learning benefits of praise.

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7. Use body language when appropriate.

Often, verbal praise may be inappropriate and may interrupt some activities. Giving kids a thumbs up while they are picking up is much better because you are not going to interrupt the job. When a child is concentrating on her reading and being really absorbed, you can pat her on the back or give her a gentle hug.

8. Don’t use sarcasm.

If you use sarcastic remarks which are supposed to be praise, they are pretty useless. First, the child does not understand sarcasm and may also resent the fact that you are harping on about his or her previous failings or unsuccessful efforts. Instead of saying, “Finally, you have learned to swim without the arm bands,” you should say “I bet you can’t wait to show your friends that you can now swim.” Always concentrate on the achievement and celebrate it with an appropriate remark. This is much better than reminding them of their past errors or failures.

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As we have seen, making praise constructive is the key. Keep focusing on the effort and commitment your kids show. They will grow up much more independent and resourceful and also have a healthy self-esteem.

Featured photo credit: Nate swimming/Mike Young via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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