Do I over-praise my toddler?

The toddler years are full of surprises as you watch your baby become a little person right before your eyes. As the days pass, and Baby continues to dazzle you with everything they are learning, and you’ll undoubtedly throw your share of “great jobs!” Baby’s way.

There’s no harm in praising them for a job well done – praise has a significant place in Baby’s world. Toddlers thrive on praise, which can build their confidence and encourage them to tackle difficult tasks. That said, is there such a thing as too much praise?

Potential issues of over-praising

It’s not uncommon for parents to worry that they may have fallen into the habit of offering praise that might cross over the line into too much territory. There are a few common themes parents feel may come up, if their praise starts to go over the top.

  • Praise dependency: If a toddler gets used to being praised for doing even the most simple tasks, they may be dependent on praise, and feel they have failed if they doesn’t hear how proud you are. They may also start completing tasks only for your approval, or specifically to be praised.
  • Narcissism: It’s silly to imply a toddler can be narcissistic, because the reality is that toddlers are self-centered by nature. Over time, though, Baby may start to learn to interpret excessive praise to mean that they are excelling beyond what is expected, or that they are doing better than others, even at the most basic activities.
  • Minimizes efforts: Praising for what is expected or typical for a toddler may discourage them from pushing their limits or trying new things. For example, if they are praised each time they use the potty when they are told, why should they initiate going on their own?

Productive praise

Toddlers need praise and thrive on hearing they’ve done a good job, and there’s no sense in refusing to praise your child when they accomplish something new or challenging. Be sure to be careful with your words as you praise them, keeping your compliments both short and specific. This will allow them to understand what specifically they are being praised for, and also makes your praise feel more sincere. Ultimately, you want your praise to motivate the behavior you want to see, but not for them to depend on praise as their motivation for behaving in a certain way.

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