Grandparent Tip: Do Not Overdo Praise

don't-overdo-praiseGrandparents tend to shower their grandkids with praise, even for the tiniest of achievements. Parents do it as well.

They do it for the right reason—to make them feel good about themselves; to help them build self-confidence in order to achieve more; and to better prepare them for adulthood.

Unfortunately, it can have the opposite effect.

Numerous studies show that it is better to praise children for the degree of difficulty in what they try and how they go about accomplishing it, rather than for the outcome itself.

Children who continuously receive high praise for completing something that is routine or easy tend to avoid new challenges. They fear failing and not receiving the praise they have come to expect. As a result they remain in their comfort zone, managing what they do based on projected outcome rather than learning from a new experience. They are risk—averse.

One study by Carol Dweck, Professor at Stanford University and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, concludes that the children who become successful adults are the ones who are praised for taking on new challenges, following good strategies, stretching outside their comfort zones, and being persistent even though the outcome may have failed.

To listen to an interview with Carol Dweck on this subject, conducted by the Harvard Business Review, click here.

 What Can Grandparents Do?

 As grandparents, we need to help our grandchildren realize that their brain is a muscle. And like any muscle, it grows stronger by adding weight and using it often. Learning new things, and trying what’s hard are good ways to give your brain a muscle-building workout. Overcoming setbacks is another example. As grandparents, we should look for opportunities to praise this behavior and to curtail all the “over-the-top” praise we lavish randomly and freely on outcomes.

If your grandchild has a success, ask how they went about accomplishing it. It’s the “how” that we want to celebrate, not the outcome itself.

Share your grandchild’s success … What has he or she done? What challenges were overcome?


Robert Martin is the author of the Keira and Papa Detective Agency series. His latest book is The Case of the Missing Crown Jewels. Robert is an advocate for both grandparents and grandchildren. He believes that grandparents have an important role to play in the lives of their grandchildren—they can be an emotional rock, a wise friend and a playful elder. Connect with him on Facebook and subscribe to his blog on

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9 comments on “Grandparent Tip: Do Not Overdo Praise

  1. Great insights we hadn’t thought of……our grandkids come in two weeks for our annual family reunion and we will try out this unique approach then! Thanks for sharing…looking forward to more great insights like this one on praise!…….Tuck and Beth Nason

    1. Claudia, It’s never too late to jump in and write! Even as grandchildren age and may seem “too old” for it, writing and sharing books is a great way to celebrate the relationship you have. I hope you read the book and let us know what you thought in a review! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. WOW, Bob! I am impressed that you have become an author! I think that’s wonderful! “How” did you decide to become one? I think that’s wonderful! (How’s my praise?) I’m learning!

    We ordered a book right away and I’m anxious to read it as I love mysteries!

    I will enjoy reading it together with our “grands” Cait, (7), Milo (5) and Madeline (3) this summer when they come and stay at our annual “Camp Mimi/Papa Week!”

    Congratulations to you and your grand daughter, Keira, on a most wonderful achievement!

    XXOO~ Cathy

    1. Cathy, It’s great to see you here on the site. Thanks for the support. Writing and storytelling were a passion of mine from childhood — so I was that much more excited when my granddaughter loved writing, too! I hope you read the book with your grandchildren, and please do leave a review on Goodreads and Amazon, as it helps spread the word!

  3. Wonderful seeing you and Pam at Jay’s birthday bash. And doubly pleased to find out that you are a published author! Your post is fun and interesting to read; I actually learned a few things!
    Congratulations to you and Keira on your current success, and best wishes for future accomplishments.
    Ginny Pappalardo

  4. This book is a great read and my granddaughter loved it! Can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out!!

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