Growing up my parents definitely praised me for doing certain things. I feel this is an important thing to do when raising kids, because it does in fact give them confidence. I believe there is a happy medium in giving these positive affirmations. Not every little thing deserves a “great job!” However, praising leads to wanting more praise and striving to be better in order to get that. I believe in my heart that my parents praising me growing up motivated me in many ways to obtain that validating feeling. It empowered my self esteem, and was one of the key things that has helped me have the confidence that I obtain today.
— Kilgore, Lubbock Cooper High School
Preparing for the “Real World”
…[T]o me it is better for the kids to learn the hard way. By telling them they do a good job after every little thing they do they won’t be prepared for the cruel real world when they are older. You can’t let them get used to everything they do is amazing and perfect, because even just in middle school teachers will tell you that you did great on something that you know you did terribly on. Letting them believe that they do great at everything is not good for them. It will not be like that in high school, and certainly not in college or at whatever job you have.
— Kaden French, Hoggard High School, Wilmington, NC
Do my parents overpraise me? No ma’am/sir. It’s quite the opposite. I do sometimes wish they could praise me a little, but my mom said “in real life you don’t get praise” and she is setting me up for it. I feel very uncomfortable when people praise me because I am not really used to it. When they do, my self esteem does not change. Pet compliments? What is that? I do believe that too much praise cannot help a child grow and have sufficient self esteem.
— Evonne Evaro, Lubbock Cooper High School, Tx, USA
The Issue of Trust
I can relate to being overpraised, in my family it can be a bit much. I know when something I’ve done isn’t good or that it isn’t what I wanted it to be, it doesn’t make me feel any better when my Mom insists that I ‘gave it my best effort’ and I ‘tried really hard’ because I know that I could’ve done better, and I should’ve worked harder. Beyond that, it makes me feel that every time I’ve been praised, I didn’t deserve it. If my parents praised me when I know I’ve done something not worthy of praise, then do they really mean the praise when I’ve actually done well? It throws me for a loop even thinking about it, asking myself if they are only saying this to make me happy and that they’re trying to shelter my feelings.
— Norah Seidler, Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn, IL
Striving for Perfection
When Mr. Underwood says that too much praise can undermine a child’s independence and self-confidence, I can relate all too well. When my parents, teachers, or anyone in particular praises my work in any field of knowledge, I feel as though the bar goes up and I have to live up to it and beyond. In my opinion, children can feel like there is a load on their back full of work they have to do, and at the end of the path, there’s a light, a light of compliments. That shouldn’t be how a child should think, they need to know that their work means something and isn’t just for a compliment. You could say that their praises help boost my confidence and let me know that I’m doing well, and they do, but the bar praises and compliments set can make a child feel insecure and as if they have to live up to it to be acknowledged.
— Jasper, Julia R. Masterman, Philadelphia, PA
I was told everything I did was wonderful as a child. However, I developed a lot of pressure to always live up to my parents, and then my own, standards of near perfection. My excitement of actually being recognized for my hard work can be dulled by my fear of not doing well enough to deserve it. While I have always been quite the tryhard, the more my mom would tell me I did a good job made me want to hear it more. And more. I wanted to be impressive, to the point where it became unhealthy. I would stress over every chore, every grade, and every project to the point of tears. I’d spend hours upon hours on making things absolutely perfect. Even if I did get to hear the treasured words of praise, if I wasn’t satisfied with my work, I didn’t believe I deserved it. The need for perfection in order for anything I did to actually deserve praise was crushing.
— Alexia Swart, Lubbock, TX
I do think that Mr. Underwood was correct when he was saying that too much praise can undermine a kid’s independence and self-confidence. When I was younger, I used to be told that I was “exceptional” in school or something along that line. I used to be so confident in my abilities in school and other things in general, but then as I got older, I realized that I didn’t stand out…Since so many people used to tell me that I was really good at things, I definitely felt and still feel pressure to live up to everyone’s standards for me, which is stressful and scary. I’m constantly thinking more about what other people will think of me and my work rather than focusing on the work I’m doing in general. I definitely believe that it is due to overpraise. I thought too highly of myself, and now I realized that the praise wasn’t true, so I have little to no self confidence at all.
— Ella Shank, Lubbock, TX