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Stop Praising and Start Motivating Your Kids


You may think that praising your children is beneficial for their self-esteem and confidence; and it can be, if done in moderation.

But, too much of a good thing can actually be more harmful than valuable for our children and excessive praise is definitely one of those things.

Do you know that excessive praising can actually diminish a child’s capabilities and reduce their self-esteem? There are better ways to MOTIVATE your child than praising them at every turn.


Why do parents praise their kids?

Adults in this generation have used praise in an effort to build up children’s self-esteem.

We believe that when children hear praise from us and think of themselves as smart, athletic or talented, they will actually become those things.

We think that praise is the best way to make our children feel confident and positive about their own capabilities.


How is praise more harmful than beneficial?

Parents tend to think that praise and encouragement are interchangeable and have the same meaning. However, they both mean very different things and knowing that difference can be crucial for our children’s upbringing.




Focuses on the doer and labels the child.

Focuses on the deed, their hard work and perseverance.

Judges the child through their actions and behavior.

Inspires them to repeat the same action or behavior

“You are a good girl/boy.”

“I appreciate you setting the table.”

Focuses on the end product or achievement only.

Focuses on the process, improvement and effort.

Fosters external motivation

Fosters internal motivation


When we constantly praise our children, we are judging them based on their actions such as, “you’re such a good girl/boy,” rather than appreciating the action itself. However, when we focus on the deed, by saying, “Thank you for setting the table,” we show our kids that their actions don’t determine how good or bad they are.

Praising also teaches our children that our opinion of their actions matters more than their own. Kids who constantly seek approval and accolades from their parents grow up to be less confident as they continue to seek approval and appreciation from others around them.

When children are encouraged for their deeds instead, they learn to take pride in their actions and are more intrinsically motivated to perform those actions again.


How to motivate kids instead of praising?

Now that we have understood how praising can be harmful, let’s learn ways to really build up our children’s confidence and self-esteem.

Instead of raising kids who look to others for motivation, approval and external rewards, let’s raise them to be confident in their own decisions and have a strong moral compass to make better choices throughout their lives.

  • Encourage the child to share their own opinion about their work. “Which painting do YOU like best?” instead of saying, “Good job!”
  • Make statements which don’t mention your approval or judgment, but rather remind the child that it’s not about us, it’s about them. “You must feel so proud of your work!” instead of saying “you’re the best!”

It’s fine if we are proud of them but it’s more important that they are proud of their own work.

  • Shift your communication where the focus is now more on your child’s opinion about their own actions. If you’ve spent many years praising your kids, they are probably used to hearing it, but it’s never too late to make a change. Instead of saying “you’ve done good work”, ask them “How do you feel about your work?” This will slowly teach your child to be less dependent on your affirmation.
  • Avoid labeling your kids. We know that attaching negative labels to our kids is discouraging but attaching positive labels can also be harmful. Labels like pretty, smart, athletic are external labels and put extra unnecessary pressure on kids to live up to those labels.
  • Focus on a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. When we have a fixed mindset and praise our kids by saying, “You’re smart,” we have told them in other words that they have already reached a level of smartness that cannot be further developed. But, if we have a growth mindset, we can instill in our kids that whatever stage they are at right now, they can improve with their effort.



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About the Founder

Internationally Recognised Emotional Literacy & Mindfulness Expert Tenille Bentley is the founder of The Emotional Literacy and Mindfulness Academy and the author of the children’s emotional literacy books with Jazzy and Pinky and The Energy Ball. Giving children a wonderful introduction to understanding their emotions and what do with them.

Tenille has been featured on Channel 9 News and other major outlets. Her work has been recognised in the community by The Governor of Western Australia, The Prime Minister of Australia and Australian Financial Review.

As a child she experienced severe anxiety and emotional traumas as well as bullying which left her feeling isolated, and unable to understand why she was feeling the way she did. As an adult this impacted her ability to make healthy decisions because she didn’t have the tools to understand her emotions. 

Which is why she is passionate about equipping parents with the tools to support their children to make better decisions in life and healthy ones to help support and create a balanced home life.