You, Me and Teddy

Parenting adventures and activities in and around Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Praise and is it negative?


101 way to praiseI have just read an article entitled “When being called ‘incredibly good’ is bad for children”. The study suggests that what they term “overpraise” can actually be very negative for a child’s self-esteem. What they call “overpraise” is not as inflated as you might thing generally comprising of any comment that includes an adverb such as “really good” rather than simply “good”.

After reading “ToddlerCalm” the other day (see my book review here: I find it incredibly interesting as Sarah Ockwell-Smith, the author, takes a very similar standpoint.

As parents we want to make our children feel as loved and secure as possible but maybe it is actually counterproductive sometimes.

Some food for thought for me today.


Author: youmeandteddy

I am a stay at home mum with 2 young children living in the French speaking part of Switzerland.

7 thoughts on “Praise and is it negative?

  1. Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about it much. The very fact that it made you think is an indication that you’re a great mom, and your children’s self-esteem will be perfectly fine. 🙂

    Something I’ve always said to our kids (and still do) are very truthful statements like “I really have fun when I’m with you” and “I love you like crazy, but I also really LIKE you a lot.” I know these comments really make them feel good about themselves – and I truly mean them!
    -Amy at

    • I think you are right: it’s all about saying stuff which you really mean. Don’t worry though I’m not having a major crisis and generally think my kids are doing pretty well.

      I do think though that we have reached a stage in out society where you are encouraged to give positive feedback continuously.

      Ockwell-Smith was also cautious about using the “s*^t sandwich” technique which I learnt when teaching whereby you sandwich criticism with good points to soften the blow…

      I guess it’s all about being straight with our families while making sure they know they are loved.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I myself am guilty of the over praising because I really want to encourage my son to keep on trying. I was raised in a household in which praise is non-existent. In fact, i was always criticized as a child, as a way to push me to do better. Well, I grew up with very low self-esteem and sought approval from a bad crowd.

    With all that said, I also do agree that too much praise is not good either as it would cause harm more than good in the long run. I need to watch it. Like you have said above, its praising and really meaning it.

    Your blog is awesome 🙂

    • Thanks hun 🙂
      As you say we always try to better our own upbringing and it’s hard not to go to extremes and end up making similar mistakes. It’s a real eye opener becoming a parent as you understand the choices your folks made better. I’m actually much closer to them now than I ever was. X

  3. I’m not a parent but volunteer as a girl guide leader. I’m of the opinion that constantly telling small girls they are pretty or beautiful sets them up to think a lot of their value is in their appearance, possibly leading to low body confidence in later years.

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