How to Prevent Praise Burnout

Too much of a good thing can be bad.  There is more truth to that than I’d like to admit.  This danger when it comes to overloading on the good stuff also applies to how we praise our kids.

We habitually say “Good job!”  to our kids when we want to praise them for a job well done, but if we say it all too often, those words tend to lose their meaning.  They eventually lose their magic and fail at making our children feel good about themselves.

The answer to building our kids’ self-esteem through praise is by using what’s called “specific praise” instead of “global praise”.  It’s about using details to give your kid a clear picture of his particular achievement.  With specific praise, a kid better understands what your praise actually means.

For instance, instead of saying “Good job, you’re so smart!” specifically tell your child how he has gotten to be smart.  You can say, “It’s the extra effort you put into studying about fractions every night that has helped you get an A in Math.  You worked hard, and you got a high grade.”  This type of praise then motivates him to keep working hard, knowing that it results in him getting high grades.

With constant practice, we should be able to use more specific praise on our kids.  Once we do so, our kids will end up becoming more confident about his capabilities and with a soaring self-esteem to handle life’s bigger challenges.

About Pepper

I am a single working mom, trying to raise my kid the best way I know how. Join me as I navigate my way through the jungle that is Single Mom-hood, armed with rose-colored glasses and strength of spirit. As pepper adds spice to food, so does my daughter add spice to my life. She makes life no less than…PEPPERRIFIC!

Catch me on G+.


  1. Great advice, I’m going to try this with my girls! I know that we say Good job to them for everything they do!

  2. I don’t have kids yet, but this principle can be used everywhere- the workplace, school setting, even at home with my husband!

    • You’re right! This could work well in the workplace. And I wish you luck using that with your husband :)

  3. Agree! Kids know when we’re being genuine.

  4. Really sound advice. I think it also just great to take the time to acknowledge these things with specifics as it’s a great indicator that you’re paying attention to the details of the “job well done.”

  5. When I first read your title I thought: ‘How is that even possible?! getting a praise burnout?’
    But then I read the post, and of course you’re right. Praise has got to mean something.

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Pepper!
    My son has gotten used to basking in the limelight and being the center of praise and attention ’round here that he has learned the not-so-good habit of praising himself. LOL.
    Sounds cute for a three-year-old, but I don’t want this habit to stick with him as he grows old.

  7. For sure, I think we overpraise our kids too much! Specific praise and a little less frequent may probably make it more valuable and meanigful to our kids!!

  8. This is great advice! I’m going to have to remember this b/c with Nolan being a toddler I tend to say “Good job” a lot :)

  9. I’m getting ready to start homeschooling my kids and I definitely need to work on adjusting my praises so that they know exactly what they did that was good. Thanks for the tips.

  10. Such great advice! It makes perfect sense too.

  11. Carla Barilá Karam says

    Pepper… great post! I love how you elaborated on a job well done. You bring up great points… I’ve been doing that for years not realizing that I have been elaborating as opposed to generalizing. Blessings to you and yours!!

  12. We do have to be careful not to give “empty” praise. Kids aren’t dumb & they know when we are sincere with our praise.

    Stopping by from VoiceBoks!

  13. Hi pepper so true and a great article.
    I learnt a few years ago that stating why your child has done a good job reinforces the behaviour to them. I like when I remember to explain it too. I see my little one take it in and she glows quietly with pride. thank u.

  14. There is some great advice here–I have to work hard to remember to give specific praise both as a parent and as a teacher. I love the look of pride my sons get when I praise them for what they specifically did. I think they’ve become deaf to “good job.”

Leave a Reply to Momfever Cancel reply