Dear Teacher: Is It Possible to Praise a Child Too Much?

Understanding the difference between praise and encouragement could help ease difficulties at school

Dear TeacherQuestion: It’s the same story at home and at school—our child in kindergarten needs to be encouraged and praised to get her to do daily tasks. This does not upset me, but her teacher is concerned. –Like to Praise

Answer: There is a difference between praise and encouragement. To praise is to make an expression of approval, while to encourage is to inspire or to urge on. Both are important to children and can build their self-confidence. To be meaningful, praise needs to be given for results. It has no value if children do not deserve it. The more praise given for things not worthy of it, the less effective it will be. When it comes to praise, more isn’t better, as it may put too much pressure on children to earn it. On the other hand, encouragement focuses more on effort and can be given whether or not children are successful.

Try to cut back on the praise and to encourage in a low-key way to make it easier for your child to become a self- starter. For example, just a smile or eye contact could do it.

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