Is there such a thing as too much praise? You know when a parent, of a healthy child of fairly normal development, says “Good job Judy you chewed your food.” or “Good Job Matt you took two steps forward.”(Clearly exaggerated) Is there a point where you can praise a child so much it loses its value? I think so. I was asked specifically by a friend, a music teacher, to blog about this. So I started looking at how I praise my kids. To some parents from the outside it may appear I over praise my kids. I do praise things that are not typically praise worthy. You brought your grade up to a C, you passed all your classes, and you made it through a week without having a meltdown are all praise worthy accomplishments in my home.
So do I over-praise? I would say no, but I can see how it is easy to do, or how another parent may think I overdo it. In this day an age where we are told our kids need to have high self-esteem and it is our job to make sure they are happy care-free kids, sometimes we as parents try too hard to make them feel good about things that they just should do. I think there is a difference between nick picking praise with every little thing and giving praise at milestones. You made a passing grade on a report card, you completed the music book, you moved up in whatever sport, are all milestones which, I think, should be acknowledged. However, every step towards that accomplishment does not necessarily need an Atta boy or Atta girl. The exception to this, in my opinion, is when kids are dealing with sever learning and/or developmental disabilities. The most minor progress may in fact be a milestone for that kid.
Personally, I think my kids need to understand there are things you should do, because it is the right thing to do. You should be an honest person. You should help in the house. You should make good grades. This is why every good grade on a paper does not get recognized. Every good week doesn’t get a good job. You should have good weeks, but if we are coming off a hard transition and I see them recover and excel that will earn praise. I want them to see specific praise as a bonus.
How does this connect to my woes and joys as a mom of kids with ADHD? Well it doesn’t just affect me as an ADHD mom. This is a dilemma all parents have to face. When are you being supportive and encouraging and when are you working towards creating a self-absorbed monster?