If you want to keep your kids from falling flat and getting tangled in the nets of flattery, here’s how to give your children healthy praise.
A man who flatters his neighbor is spreading a net for his steps. Proverbs 29:5
I’ve talked before about the healthy and unhealthy types of praise, but I want to focus for a minute on the parental habit of empty praise. Scripture calls it flattery. And flattery leads to falling flat on your feet, which is what happens when your feet get caught in a net, as suggested in Proverbs 29:5.
When I say empty praise or flattery, I am talking about praise that is merely spoken to try to pacify a child’s negativity or score points with a child, and has little or no substance. That sort of praise may put a bandaid on the problem, but it does not cure it.
You see, kids are pretty smart. Sooner or later, they will see through all the inaccurate statements you are making about them just to make them feel good.
Blogger Lisa Endlich explains that “the single most important thing we have with our kids, beyond our enduring love, is our credibility. By telling kids that they are good at something when they are patently not, we ruin that credibility and do little for their self-esteem as the truth at some point will be revealed. When my kids do not have an aptitude for something, I don’t shy away from telling them, but this means that any praise I do give them has that much more value. Our trustworthiness as parents should not be sacrificed on the flimsy altar of acclaim.”
The answer to the question, How to Give Your Child Healthy Praise, lies in your honesty.
Don’t tell your child she has an amazing singing voice and should sing a solo, when she doesn’t. You can encourage her to try singing, applaud her efforts and offer to help her improve her skill if she’d like, but don’t lie to her about her natural talent.
Don’t convince your son that he has an amazing pitching arm when he absolutely doesn’t just because you know he wants to pitch. You can work with him on his pitching if he insists on trying it, support his attempts to improve, and perhaps encourage him to try out other positions. But don’t lie to him about his abilities if he’s way off the mark.
Studies show that the very kids who we hope to help with empty praise are actually the worst off for our efforts and suffer lower self-esteem that if we’d spoken the truth in love.
If you need guidance or help with parenting issues, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am a life coach with 29 years of parenting experience and I would love to help you with the challenges you are facing.