Praise and affirmation would impact children in their behavior or self-esteem. They are something which most children crave for from their parents, teachers, coaches and other authoritative figures in their lives. They are not flattery and should be direct, specific and sincere.
On the other hand, we should be carefully to avoid praising our children excessively. What is excessive praise? What kind of negative effects they would have on children?
Excessive praises are those repeatedly heaping on a child for the same success or good behavior. Things that he has already shown he is capable of excellence.
Unless the child is one who lacks confidence, to repetitively praise him for the same thing would only make him proud or develop a false illusion of his capabilities. The last thing we want is to raise a haughty child or one who is not motivated to progress any further.
So, how do we avoid excessive praise?
1. Suppress our carnal urge to repeatedly praise the child in front of others especially over the same thing.
2. Look out for new accomplishment or behavior progress to praise him about i.e. his improved penmanship or ability to take initiative.
At different growing-up stage, children would mature and develop more sophisticated skills, abilities and even attitude. It is the task of their authoritative figures to earmark their progress and affirm them with verbal praise besides physical rewards.
Ms Dorothy Law Nolte, a wise Librarian, had beautifully written these in Children Learn What They Live:
If children live with criticism, they learnt to condemn
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy
If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence
If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness
In the Bible, our tongue is described as a bit which can control a horse, a rudder which can steer a ship. Let us use it wisely to direct our children to good works and character-building.