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 he is learning, and you’ll undoubtedly throw your share of “great jobs!” Baby’s way.

There’s no harm in praising him 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, he may be dependent on praise, and feel he has failed if he doesn’t hear how proud you are. He 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 he is excelling beyond what is expected, or that he is doing better than others, even at the most basic activities.
  • Minimizes efforts: Praising for what is expected or typical for a toddler may discourage him from pushing his limits or trying new things. For example, if he is praised each time he uses the potty when he is told, why should he initiate going on his 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 he accomplishes something new or challenging. Be sure to be careful with your words as you praise him, keeping your compliments both short and specific. This will allow him to understand what specifically he is 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 him to depend on praise as his motivation for behaving in a certain way.

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