Avoiding the trap of giving too much praise

Madeline Levine, PhD Psychologist and Author, shares advice for parents on how much praise for your child is too much, and the negative effects that too much praise can lead to
Parenting Tips | The Effects Of Over Praising Kids
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Avoiding the trap of giving too much praise

One of the things parents are a little confused about these days are how much praise is good? What's with the self-esteem thing? There was a big self-esteem movement that said kids got praised for showing up, everybody got a trophy just for being there; that's not exactly the way the world works. I think when we are overly effusive in our praise for our children, we sort of set them up for expecting that the world is going to meet them that way. And here's the reality that nobody likes to hear: Most of our children are average, most of us are average, which we have things that we're good at, we have things that we fail miserably at, and we have a whole bunch of things in the middle that we're average at. And I think to constantly be telling our children how incredibly special they are sets them up for disappointment out in the world when somebody actually evaluates them and they're not all that special. So I think we always want to show warmth, we always want to show unconditional love, "I love you the way that you are. That doesn't mean anything you do is okay." But this need to praise I think comes as much from the parent as much as it does from a child's need. There's a lot of research that tells us that praise actually gets in the way of children testing themselves, at getting better at things and of actually internally feeling good about themselves.

Madeline Levine, PhD Psychologist and Author, shares advice for parents on how much praise for your child is too much, and the negative effects that too much praise can lead to


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Madeline Levine, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Madeline Levine, PhD, is a psychologist with close to 30 years of experience as a clinician, consultant and educator. Her New York Times bestseller, The Price of Privilege, explores the reasons why teenagers from affluent families are experiencing epidemic rates of emotional problems.  Her book, Teach Your Children Well, outlines how our current narrow definition of success unnecessarily stresses academically talented kids and marginalizes many more whose talents and interests are less amenable to measurement. The development of skills needed to be successful in the 21st century- creativity, collaboration, innovation – are not easily developed in our competitive, fast-paced, high pressure world. Teach Your Children Well gives practical, research- based solutions to help parents return their families to healthier and saner versions of themselves.

Dr. Levine is also a co-founder of Challenge Success, a project born at the Stanford School of Education. Challenge Success believes that our increasingly competitive world has led to tremendous anxiety about our children’s’ futures and has resulted in a high pressure, myopic focus on grades, test scores and performance. This kind of pressure and narrow focus isn’t helping our kids become the resilient, capable, meaningful contributors we need in the 21st century. So every day, Challenge Success provides families and schools with the practical research-based tools they need to raise healthy, motivated kids, capable of reaching their full potential. We know that success is measured over the course of a lifetime, not at the end of the grading period.

Dr. Levine began her career as an elementary and junior high school teacher in the South Bronx of New York before moving to California and earning her degrees in psychology. She has had a large clinical practice with an emphasis on child and adolescent problems and parenting issues. Currently however, she spends most of her time crisscrossing the country speaking to parents, educators, students, and business leaders. Dr. Levine has taught Child Development classes to graduate students at the University of California Medical Center/ San Francisco. For many years, Dr. Levine has been a consultant to various schools, from preschool through High School, public as well as private, throughout the country. She has been featured on television programs from the Early Show to the Lehrer report, on NPR stations such as Diane Rheems in Washington and positively reviewed in publications from Scientific American to the Washington Post. She is sought out both nationally and internationally as an expert and keynote speaker. 

Dr. Levine and her husband of 35 years, Lee Schwartz, MD are the incredibly proud (and slightly relieved) parents of three newly minted and thriving sons.

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