The benefits of “non-praise”

I heard about this article from many years ago but recently had cause to seek it out and read it through. Am I glad I did!

Praising children is something many adults do without realising what it actually does to children.

I am a past offender myself. I’m always striving to be “no praise” but every once in a while, I fall into the praise trap. It is often, for my part, simply due to a lack of thinking through before saying things. I may be rushed at the time so don’t have the opportunity to really sit down and acknowledge what my child did, and yet feel guilty if I had to just leave it there without saying a word. I may sometimes really think it is a good piece of artwork, for example, and was just sincerely expressing my views in a similar spirit to someone saying “Bravo!”

But it needs to change. I noticed my younger daughter’s violin teacher, for example, does it A LOT. I notice lots of tutors do it a lot to my kids. I know if I sent my kids to school, their school teachers probably do it in the excess. And those reward stickers and reward charts and the reward certificates schools here like to hand out weekly or monthly? Those are just overkill. The phrase “Good.” (or its similarly-defined alternatives) is quite cringeworthy once you realise just how bad praise sounds and what negative effects it can have on a child.

I just have to be more mindful of the situation and tailor my responses to my kids as such rather than reverting to praise. Also, the guilt of not saying a praise is very real when you’ve been someone raised on a system of carrot and stick. I need to get over it, slowly but surely. In fact I think that is a far more poignant reason why I always end up “reoffending” and saying praises to my kids about their work when I’m short on time. I read the article and found it’s tips on how to avoid praise very helpful.

This video of an interview with Alfie gives more perspective on this :



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