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Do We Praise Too Much?

by Internet4classrooms.com

There was a hilarious Saturday Night Live skit titled "You Can Do Anything" with Daniel Radcliffe. Its theme was basically this: You think you're the best at skills you absolutely have no talent in. But because your parents told you that you were great all the time, you assumed you can do anything perfectly.

It seemed relevant to the way kids are being raised these days. It's bad enough there is a lack in independent and free play given all the technology and video games that exist now. But what happens when you throw self-esteem into the mix? Do our children require every day praise just to function and perform normal tasks that past generations were simply expected to do.

My grandson has been working on his fine motor skills, especially snapping his jeans. The other day he ran in to the kitchen screaming with delight, "I did it! I snapped them!" Knowing he had been working on mastering this task, I should have jumped for joy, right? But I simply said, "that's good that you tried," and I continued my cooking. Now I know he was expecting a bigger production, but really now, should I have purchased a new toy for him doing a task he should be doing every day of his life? 

What about in sports? My grandson plays both soccer and basketball. Is he one of the best on his team? Well actually, he is very good. But does that give him the right to hog the ball and never pass? No. I give him praise for making baskets, but I certainly don't praise being a poor teammate.  When is enough praise enough vs. too much?
Kids these days seem to expect a "GREAT JOB!" exclamation at every little thing they do. Everyone gets a medal in soccer at the end of the season. Parents are seen clapping when a homework assignment is completed.  Homework is not a choice. Good grades should be the norm. When did we become a society filled with praise-dependent children?

You will find a lot of articles out there, each with their own viewpoint. And you will have your own opinions too. What do you see in your students? How has their need for praise changed over the years? What will these kids be like in 15 years when they're a part of the working world. How do we wean them off of the "good jobs" and "way to go's" now? Or should we?

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Internet4classrooms is a collaborative effort by Susan Brooks and Bill Byles.




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