I recently read multiple articles which argue that praising kids too much may lead to narcissism. Take, for example, a piece on Forbes. It cites a study at Ohio State University which suggests that "constant – and perhaps undue – praise for our kids' tiniest accomplishments, or non-accomplishments, may have the unintended side-effect of creating an over-inflated ego."
Not that this is anything new, mind you. At least, not to parents like me who remember a similar conclusion drawn by Pixar in a 2004 film. You know, the one that spouted, "When everyone's Super, no one is." But I digress.
Fortunately, I don't think my kids have to worry about being narcissists. Unfortunately, however, it's because overpraising them is not my problem.
Nope. Instead, I struggle with praising them as much as I should.
Often I'm so focused on correcting them – you know, in my efforts to help them grow up to be Jesus-loving, law-abiding, well-mannered members of society – that I forget my kids need, crave even, praise. And they don't just need equal amounts of praise and correction, but greater amounts of praise than correction.
In fact, did you know that there's an ideal praise-to-criticism ratio? According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, the ideal ratio of positive and negative comments should be 5.6 to 1. I didn't realize just how poorly I was failing until I read that. Gee thanks, Harvard.
So how am I working to improve my ratio? How am I seeking to do better at living out with my kids the biblical encouragement of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 to "encourage one another and build one another up"?
By making kid-sized communication sandwiches.