Praise Articles

Drowning in Love: What’s Too Much of a Good Thing?

Monday, February 17th, 2014

_MG_0606Definitions of smothering love: To express your love for someone too much; to cover someone or something completely; to insulate, to overwhelm.

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs around. Especially here, especially now, in our rapidly moving, constantly changing modern world. Most parents seek out this job willingly and joyfully with the best of intentions. Doesn’t everyone want to raise happy healthy children who grow up into competent independent adults? Of course. So what goes wrong?

It is easy to pick out the parents who are not doing their jobs. These are the parents who have too many problems of their own to contend with–like substance abuse, severe untreated mental illness, domestic violence or highly conflictual marriages, inadequate physical and emotional resources–so that they are clearly unable to provide the nurturing and supervision that all children need. Anyone can understand why children raised in unsafe and chaotic environments are at risk for developing emotional or behavioral problems.

But what about the kids who come from loving homes with well-meaning parents who shower their kids with attention, affection, guidance and opportunities of all kinds. Can you ever love a child too much? Probably not. Can you smother a child with too much love and attention? Yes indeed.

file9541282977224Children (And Adults) Need Both Closeness and Distance

Parents today are far better informed about the importance of forming strong secure attachments with their infants. Babies need to know that their caregivers will meet not only their survival needs but their needs for touch, empathy, and connection. But with every passing year, children also need the freedom to explore independently in order to develop a sense of autonomy.

Finding the balance between the two is an exquisite dance of moving apart and then moving together again, like breathing in and breathing out, stepping forward and stepping back, leaning in and letting go. In my experience as a family therapist, I am seeing more and more parents struggling with the desire for too much closeness, and as a result producing kids–particularly teens and young adults–drowning …


The Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Entitlement?

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

file0001348598223Fasten your seat belts and prepare for some disturbing trends showing up in America these days…Think about what these statistics and stories all have in common…

Spending More than We Earn

Americans spend 1.5 trillion dollars on their credit cards each year. Sadly, over 40% are spending more money than they are earning. Studies show that people spend far more money using credit cards than they would spend if they were paying with actual dollars.

In the ten years between 1997 and 2007, consumer debt went up a whopping 75%. In that same time period, the median household income did not increase at all, but that didn’t stop the trend toward spending.

Daniel Indiviglio, in the Atlantic, described American’s recent love affair with debt. He compared the average debt of an American in 1948 to someone in 2010, while taking population and inflation into account. His startling findings showed that debt went from $1,186 per person in 1948 to $10,168 in 2010, not including mortgages or home equity loans.

The False Promise of the Job Marketfile2461263253373

This trend is not explained simply by the rise of materialism but is also due to the trend towards sending more kids to college than ever before. The expectation that a college degree will secure a high paying job is, unfortunately, no longer a promise that can be fulfilled.

According to a recent poll conducted by Forbes Woman and the National Endowment for Financial Education, 59% of parents are still financially supporting their adult children aged 18 to 39 who are no longer in school. In order to do so, these parents are making significant sacrifices such as taking on more debt, delaying retirement, and denying themselves vacations, homes, and privacy. What message does this send to our next generations of adults?

file8811271718203Trying to Look the Part

In spite of economic trends, more Americans are choosing to do cosmetic surgery (rather than reconstructions after accidents or illnesses) than ever before. …


How To Enhance Your Kids’ (And Your Own) Motivation: Part 2

Monday, June 18th, 2012

”The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” – Norman Vincent Peale

In Part 1 about motivation, we learned how intrinsic motivation, the built-in desire to learn and to grow, is far more powerful than extrinsic motivation at sustaining good habits. One of the hotly debated topics in the field concerns the use of praise. Does praise help motivate kids to work harder or does it do just the opposite?

Although research about the perils of too much praise on children’s learning is not new, it is so important that it bears repeating. Here’s the punchline: praise may do more harm than good.

One of the leaders of this inquiry is psychologist Carol Dweck at Stanford University. Her original article entitled “Praise for Intelligence Can Undermine Children’s Motivation and Performance,” was published with Claudia Mueller from Columbia University in 1998, and it created quite a stir since the prevailing belief at the time was that praise helped increase motivation.


How's Your Family Really Doing?
Don MacMannis, Ph.D. & Debra Machester MacMannis, MSW are the author of How's Your Family Really Doing?.

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