I think my wife praises our kids too much. I believe praise should be used sparingly. Who is right?

You know, when it comes to this whole thing of praising too much or praising too little, you want to do a balance between the two, because the mother that wants to praise everything, well, she’s got a good heart about this, and the father that wants to be sparing about it, to make sure that it’s accurate, well, he has good intentions, too. 

The fact is, you have got to be very careful. 

Affirmation is a vital part of parenting. It touches a kid’s heart and says, “You are securely loved. We see you doing things right. We appreciate you.” But the fact is, we are going through a time in our parenting history in our country where a lot of empty praise has been thrown around. 

There was actually an era where they said you should just praise your kids for everything, no matter what, and just go on and on and on. My problem is that this can set out kids up for some real heartache in the future. 

I look at a lot of parents’ idea of praise. It’s like their kids are firing arrows at random in the woods, and then they go out with their aerosol cans of paint, and they draw concentric circles around each one sticking in a tree, saying, “Bulls-eye! Bulls-eye! Bulls-eye!” 

No, they are not bulls-eyes. 

You see, here’s the thing. Our kids do plenty of things that are worthy of accurate praise, without having to make things up. But if you are just giving them empty praise, they are going to figure it out. They are going to know, “No, I’m not as good as you say I am. It’s just hot air.” And then they won’t appreciate anything you say, even when it’s genuine. 

On top of that, they are moving into a world where people do not grade on a curve, they do not throw around empty praise. They grade them very accurately, and sometimes severely and harshly. 

We set their hearts up to be crushed, if they think that they are something they are not. 

Here’s the good news. You have plenty to work with in every one of your children, that you can say to them, “Oh, this is a great job. Great effort. I see what you did. I appreciate what you are doing,” without having to make stuff up. 

When you give them good, accurate, magnanimous, generous praise for the things they are actually doing, they are going to be fine when they come up against that hard appraisal. They will be just fine, because they are secure deep down in their heart.