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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Can too much praise for your toddler be a bad thing?

Vanessa Bartlemus

Of course, to you every painting of your toddler's is a masterpiece, and every time she counts or says her ABC's she must be the smartest kid in the world. Children thrive on praise and it's definitely a helpful tool to teach your child right from wrong. But can too much praise be a bad thing for your child?


One negative consequence of too much praise could be that your toddler begins thinking everything he does is the best, and consequently have a hard time accepting negative feedback. Similarly, it can also cause him to be a perfectionist.

Doing things just for the praise

Another implication of too much praise is that your toddler may start doing things just for the praise she receives, or not doing things when there's no one around to motivate her with praise. An example would be clapping for your child or saying, "Good girl!" every time she shares. Young children then sometimes start sharing just for the praise they receive; they hand the toy to their friend but then immediately look to you for the "reward" they'll receive. You want your toddler to share because it's the right thing to do, not because she gets a "good job!" or high five when she shares.

Don't overdo it

They key is moderation. Definitely make sure to praise your child when he does a good job, but don't make it something that he comes to expect from you. If he comes and shows you a drawing he did, point out how you like the colors he used or how he tried to draw a circle, rather than using an overarching and hyperbolic statement like, "Wow! That's the coolest drawing I've ever seen!" To encourage things like sharing, talk to your toddler about why he should share, rather than making him hand over his toy and then praising him.

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