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The Painful Effects of Praise: Understanding Your Perfectionistic Child

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There is often confusion around the word praise.  Should we praise our children or not? Research shows that praise is demotivating and limits our children. It stimulates a goal of perfectionism that comes at a big cost to our children. Encouragement, on the other hand, spurs our children on, because encouraged children are comfortable making mistakes. They actually enjoy the learning process!

This clip (3:42) does a super job of explaining this phenomenon, but again we see confusion in the use of the language.  These women use the term “praise of effort” for what I and my fellow Adlerians would call “encouragement.”   I wish all the professionals would get on board with the same language so we don’t further confuse parents who are trying to make sense of all this!

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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9 Responses to “The Painful Effects of Praise: Understanding Your Perfectionistic Child”

  1. colette annetts

    Loved this clip. I have send the link to many mom friends!!! Thank you.

  2. Sekey

    This is exactly what we needed to see right now with regards with our son. Thanks! I will be sharing it with my friends also. Their video ‘Embracing Kid’s Failures’ is very useful also.

  3. Amy

    This is a helpful video.
    Regarding terminology, I agree that it would be nice if everyone used the same language. However, in this case I prefer “praise of effort” rather than “encouragement”. I think of praising the child’s character and praising their effort as very close to each other — I really have to think about what I’m about to say when I comment on something my kid has done. It’s a very subtle distinction (for me anyway). Using the two “praise of” labels respects that subtlety while making it easier to understand the distinction. So when I start to say something to my child I can easily think “Am I going to praise her character or praise her effort?” and then correct myself if it’s the former. Whereas “encouragement” it seems like a much more nebulous thing which I don’t really feel like I understand.
    Perhaps part of the problem is that “encouragement” is a larger set of behaviours which include praising effort as well as other things? (I’m not sure if that’s true.)

  4. Alyson Schafer

    Amy, you make such a good point. I am glad you took the time to post this comment. YES – encouragement is a larger concept. Maybe so large it becomes unruly to explain and could better be broken down eh?
    I am not married to any one word / term – but it sure makes it hard to create meaningful dialogue when we don’t have language agreement.
    I am just finishing Malcolm Gladwell’s new book “Outliers” and according to one section of argument he makes, having a sense of “entitlement” in children is healthy. When I hear his arguments / description of “entitlement” ( and he also mentions the language confusion) I am totally on board with the benefits of this “mindset” or “quality” but if I were to start blogging: “an attitude of entitlement is good” people would fall off their chairs! 🙂
    Semantics eh?

  5. Lynne Brown

    Thank you for this interesting clip. I work with parents and their children and we are doing a workshop “Not in Praise of Praise” and would love to show this clip. Will it still be available on line on Feb. 4th when I present this challenging subject? Any suggestions on making the subject clearer to understand for parents?
    Thanks again.

  6. Julia

    I was wondering if you could give me the link or site where I can find the carol dweck article or study, like in an academic journal?

  7. livejasmin website

    An impressive share! I have just frwarded this onto a coworker who
    has been conducting a little homework on this.
    And he actually ordered me lunch ssimply because I found it for him…
    lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss
    this subject here on your website.

  8. Alyson Schafer

    HA! I am glad I got you a free lunch. Happy to happy in anyway – meals included. LOL – Alyson


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