As my sons get older, I find myself even more focused on how and what we praise. As a teacher, I became rather adamant about specific praise. I found that many children were used to hearing "good job" and even worse "good boy/girl" in reference to little to non-important tasks. When you give unspecific praise to menial tasks it makes people feel they need to be acknowledged for any and everything they do. It also takes away the value of praise.

When we praise the boys we try to use specific praise. "Thank you for listening to me", "I really liked the way you helped Colby", "Good choices", "good job pushing in your chair".... We praise behaviors that are new skills that we are trying to encourage and/or older skills that are slacking at the time.

We have never rewarded our sons for actions or learning. Ok we tried with the whole potty training thing, but it didn't help. We want the boys to learn that they should choose to do the right thing because it is the right thing. They need to choose to learn for the sake of learning.

Do I think parents who reward their children are wrong... no. Do I think that rewarding children for an exceptions is wrong, yes. You don't reward a 3 year old for walking, but you may want to reward them for behaving in the grocery store. Just as you wouldn't praise a 3 year old for playing with his toys, but you may praise him for cleaning up without a fuss.

I've always felt that empty praise is just as bad as an empty promise or empty threat. Neither has much value in the growth of a child. When you make empty promises/threats to children, they learn that they can not trust the words of adults. They learn that lies are ok. When you make empty praise they feel that their actions have less importance. They feel that there is do difference between the types of actions that occur.


  1. Great post Teacher Mommy. I agree!

  2. I agree. I can't stand hearing a parent say "good boy/girl". It sounds like they are praising a dog. Lately when Madison does something well or makes good choices I have been telling her that "She makes me proud when ...". Long story about why I've chosen those words but I think they are important for a child to hear.

  3. I make it a point to thank my children for things they do. I try to make it specific but think I could probably do a better job. I never say good boy/girl because its a label and I try to avoid labeling my children. It makes me cringe when I hear others say that.

  4. Intresting! As a former teacher I do feel kids now days get to much praise. Some kids feel like they should get something for everything they do right. They are always wanting, wanting more. Is this the message we want to give them? No.

    I do praise my kids for good behavior, but I do not cross the line and go overbaord.

    Side note, some kids now days, don't know how to lose. They think that everyone is a winner and never learn this important skill. That you are not the best, at everything, all the time. I scared these kids will grow up to be dissapointed about everything.

    Sorry this was so long! AGAIN!

  5. I totally agree. We do the same in our house, although sometimes I find myself focusing too much on the negative and not enough on the positive! Sometimes I just expect certain things but I have to remind myself that they are just little and I need to praise them more often!

  6. Very well said! And I do agree! I try to be very mindful of this, especially lately. Positive reinforcement can be a very powerful tool!

  7. i agree! im been more focused on avery's good behavior than bad after watching dateline(or something like that last week) although i always did praise him the teacher way!

    i will admit, i did reward for the potty and it worked, but now he doesn't even ask for it. the potty thing i think is a personal decision.

    we have been rewarding for picking up his toys lately, but its been he gets to watch 3 youtube videos(nursery rhyme songs) he LOVES it and works most of the time. sometimes its can be a fine line to walk!

  8. I agree! I don't think we should over praise our kids but we SHOULD use specific priase for certain behaviors. I think when parents reward and praise for every little thing- especially learning- it becomes meaningless.


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