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Friday, May 22, 2009

In praise of excessive praise?

I would say there was a definite improvement in behaviour since yesterday. The girl did manage to hit her brother twice on the head and tried to bit him once but I interceded. I could see her leading towards him with a very purposeful manner, her mouth open and, I swear, her teeth glistening. I said a quick no and sent her to have a time out.

The weirdest part of all this has been the, what seems to me anyway, like excessive praise. (We are trying some strategies from Supernanny here). I lost count of how many times I said to her yesterday "good job not biting your brother. I am so proud of you".

Seriously? I am praising my daughter for not biting her brother? What's next, good job breathing? I like how you are chewing your food?

It has made an impression though. She turned to me a number of times yesterday and said "Look mama, I'm not biting my brother!".

Really, I probably shouldn't even ridicule the idea of excessive praise. We are probably guilty of it long before now. We have been known to be free with the encouragement and "good jobs". In fact, often when the girl climbs a particularly tricky vertical wall on the play structure she likes to stand at the top, clap her hands and tell me "say good job mama". And I do.


  1. I do this all the time, it's so funny. "I'm so proud of Christos, for not pushing your brother in these last 5 minutes! High 5!" Seriously. I do this all the time! Then 5 minutes later... "Christos! DO NOT push your brother!" It's such a struggle!

  2. I'm not a huge fan of supernanny, and of course, because everybody is an 'expert,' the stuff I've read cautions against so much praise. But it's a fine line between being encouraging and positive and turning our children into praise junkies. I'd suggest checking out, where you will get a different strategy, and then come up with whatever feels comfortable in between.

  3. Hey Capital Mom, Good job on not biting your daughter!! ;)

    But seriously--that's great to get next-day results!