The Power (and Peril) of Praise

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encourage adhd childA longtime friend and subscriber forwarded an article to me recently entitled, “How Not to Talk to Your Kids – The Inverse Power of Praise“. In a nutshell, the article states that in order to be truly effective, praise needs to be specific – and true. I recommend that you read the article, which cites research which sort of blows holes into some of the long standing beliefs we have about the way we build self-esteem.

That’s why we praise our kids. “You’re so smart…clever…interesting…beautiful…” I do it. You do it. But is it truly helpful? Could it even be counter-productive? The research in the article suggests that maybe so. “I am smart, the kids’ reasoning goes; I don’t need to put out effort. Expending effort becomes stigmatized—it’s public proof that you can’t cut it on your natural gift.”

Read the article and see what you think. It did make me listen to some of the compliments I give my guys.

“Hello soccer star.” He’s not, really… Perhaps I should have said, “Boy, your ball control was great today.”

“You’re a great writer.” He is, but perhaps I should have been more specific. “Bravo for catching that redundancy.”

It is true that praise is powerful. To avoid the peril that can accompany it, give your praise more punch by specifically and sincerely complimenting your child on talents, traits, and accomplishments.

About Kayla

Kayla Fay is a freelance writer and the mother of four boys, three of whom have been formally diagnosed with the inattentive type of ADHD. When she started “Who Put the Ketchup in the Medicine Cabinet?” in 2002, her sons were ages 8 through 14, when her life was a “progression of dirty laundry, lost homework, misunderstood Algebra, and a whole lot of love and fun”.

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