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It’s nice to get a bit of praise for a job well done, but when it comes to children, giving too much can be as harmful as giving too little.
A new book titled Nurture Shock has been causing headlines after research conducted concluded that parents need to be wary of how many compliments they give their kids – and exactly how they word them.
Parenting guru Trudi Butler explained a bit more. She said: “We’ve been told up until now just to praise them (children) whenever, all the time, and obviously to encourage good behaviour we have to praise them all the time. But there’s a new book out, Nurture Shock, and it’s based on all this research that’s been done showing us that we can overdo it a bit.
“What happens is normally when you do something your brain gives you a wee reward if you achieve something, it’s (caused by) dopamine,” Trudi said.
“And what happens is when you praise children too much, they don’t produce this as much, and this can affect their persistence in tasks…if they’re just always depending on their parents to say ‘good boy, good girl’ all the time, they depend on that a bit too much. They become a praise addict I’m afraid.”
Trudi admits that it’s hard to get a good balance, but the main guideline from the book is not to give too much or too little praise, as too much can make a child’s self-worth dependant solely on what their parent thinks, and too little can ruin their confidence and self-estee.
It’s best to give precise praise too. So rather than saying things like ‘good boy’, it’s better to say ‘I like this drawing because…’. Praising a child for being ‘clever’ can put a huge amount of pressure on them to consistently perform to a particular standard, which can be too much to deal with too.
Trudi’s final piece of advice is to be honest with your kids. From about five-years-old, children are really quite perceptive, and will know if you are just praising them for no reason – it’s much better to give praise when it’s truly deserved as this will actually mean something.
Have you got little ones and would love some more parenting advice and tips? Check out Trudi’s website www.theparentguru.com