I've been doing a bit of reading lately about the problem with too much praise in raising children. Too much praise? Is there really such a thing? I believe there is. I want my children to have freedom to really be themselves. I don't want them to feel as if they have to live up to my expectations of them.
I worry about this because I was a first child and an overachiever, as many firsts are. I pushed and pushed myself. My parents didn't care if I got straight A's, I did. They didn't care if I came in first, I did. And, to this day, I don't want to be good at something, I want to do it perfectly, for me. It can be a hard way to live.
As an infant, THE Princess, seemed to command praise. She would clap her hands and everyone else would, too. She identified the parts of her body, they cheered. Before I was a parent I would have laughed at that statement. Now, I know the power these little people hold. They hold our adoration. And, sometimes it is just too much.
So, I am starting, little by little. I am using the advice of Naomi Aldort, who says this: "For a young child, I suggest to simply stop dishing out the praise. If she asks, "Was I good?" put the power back in her lap with, "Did you enjoy doing it; do you like it?" If she insists on your feedback, you can say, "I love it because I love anything you do because I love you." Or, you can offer an older child feedback rather than praise. Ask the child what she needs to know: "Would you like to know if your leg was straight in the air when you jumped?" or, "Do you want to know if the blue stands out in your painting?"
Okay, I can do that. Right? It doesn't sound that hard. Give them acceptance. Don't make them feel as if they have to earn love through praise. I'm working at being purposeful about my words to my children. It's something I can learn to do, I'm sure.
It's not that I don't want to praise my children. I do. But, I don't want them to be something other than themselves because of my praise. My children are children of God. I want them to grow into the awesome people that God wants for them to be. My dreams for them are limited by my human nature and our flawed world. His dreams for them are greater than I may ever know.