Posts Tagged Acknowledgment vs. Praise

The Perils of Praise

I often talk and write about how acknowledging a person’s behavior is more effective than offering praise. For example, saying, “You treated your bother with real consideration” is more empowering and has a greater positive emotional impact than saying, “I am so pleased by the way you treated your brother.”

Reinforcing and empowering self-understanding is much more useful for the person than praise, which shows no indication for judging progress.


  1. Praise prompts a dependence on others for approval.
  2. Praising youth can increase learned helplessness if young people rely on approval in lieu of their own motivation.
  3. Praise can generate disappointment for those who don’t receive it when others do. Experts call this “punished
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Acknowledgments vs. Praise

Acknowledgments encourage and motivate. They serve to give recognition without the disadvantages of giving praise.

Praise has a price. It implies a lack of acceptance and worth when a youth does not behave as the adult wishes. Using a phrase that starts with “I like . . .” encourages a young person to behave IN ORDER TO PLEASE THE ADULT. By contrast, acknowledgments affirm while fostering self-satisfaction. 

Notice the difference in the following examples: 

  • “I am so pleased with the way you treated your brother,” versus “You treated your brother with real consideration.” 
  • “I like the way you are working,” versus “Your working shows good effort.” 
  • “I’m so proud of you for your grades,” versus “Your grades show you are
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