Parenting Guide

Parenting Guide

Does Praise Build Self-Esteem?

Of course, you want your child to feel good and succeed. However, you may not realize that over-praising can undermine the power of praise and strip it of its meaning. It can also turn your child into a “praise junkie,” relying on you or others for approval. Too much praise may even lead her to lose her intrinsic motivation—that is, her inner drive to do something for its own sake, not for external rewards.

No one can give another person self-esteem. People build self-esteem through their own actions. Once you recognize that self-esteem and motivation only develop as the result of work and effort, not false accomplishments or false praise, perhaps you can begin to allow your child to struggle. When you rush to rescue your child from frustration, you rob her of the opportunity to develop competence. A true sense of competence cannot be given; it must be earned. What’s more, your child needs to feel competent and worthy in areas she considers valuable.

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