Is there such a thing as bad praise?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 13,958
    Parenting expert Dr. Rene Hackney talks about if there’s such a thing as bad praise.

    Rene Hackney

    Originally a full-time preschool teacher, Dr. Rene Hackney now holds a Master?s in school psychology and a PhD. in developmental psychology from George Mason University. She trained at the Developmental Clinic at Children?s National Medical Center and for the public schools, teaching in parenting programs at each. She has also acted as a consultant to several area preschools.

    For the last four years, Dr. Hackney has owned and lectured for Parenting Playgroups, Inc, a parenting resource center and preschool classroom in Alexandria Virginia. She has offered workshops to a wide

    range of parent, teacher and social work groups during this time.

    Workshop topics include eight hours on positive discipline techniques, five hours on early academic issues and common issues such as sibling rivalry and potty training. All workshops provide well researched lecture, in-class practice and open discussion time. Additionally she hosts a monthly parenting focused book club and fun play programs to introduce the preschool setting to young families.

    Dr. Hackney is married and has two young children of her own.

    Host: Is there is such a thing as bad praise?

    Rene Hackney: There is a bad kind of praise, it is called evaluative praise. It is when a parent says often, Oh, good job, you are such a good boy, oh thank you so much, oh, I really like that. Overtime evaluative praise tends to the talk tends to be reliant on it. If they hear, good job, good job, you are such a good boy a lot, when they don t hear it they may start to doubt themselves, Well, was that bad? So it builds a sense of reliance from the child toward that parent and toward that amount of praise. We here at the office when a child will paint over our easel, we hear this type of thing where the child will say, Ms. Rene, come look, I made a painting and I will go over and I will say, Wow, you used every color, I am trying to be very descriptive and they say, Do you like it? and I say, Yeah, I like it, look you made it so round there in the middle, that must have taken a lot of work. Is it pretty? they are waiting for someone to say, Oh, I like it, oh that is pretty that more evaluative type of statement. So, they are looking for it because they are doubting themselves if they do not hear it. It also tends to be rather vague. A child may do a series of behaviors and the parents says, Good job, the child does not know exactly what it was that that parent was talking about. It is hard for them to repeat the behavior again because they may have been commenting on any bit of it. It also tends to give ownership to the care giver. When you use evaluative praise, parents tend to say things like, Oh, thank you so much or I really like that. Meaning, do that behavior because it was good for me, do that behavior because someone was watching. We want children doing these behaviors, even when no one is looking, do it because it was the right thing to do. So, evaluative praise turns to go in the wrong direction there as well. Another thing that tends to happen with evaluative praise is that it builds extrinsic motivation. The child over a time is learning to do behaviors because others are watching, because others will see which is an extrinsic rather than intrinsic, knowing it was the right thing to do.