I'm a child development expert these are the surprising everyday phrases that could actually be damaging your child
10th November 2021

A DOCTOR of child development has revealed that the way you praise your kid could actually be doing more damage than good.

Child development expert Dr Kristyn Sommer explains that way you use phrases such as "good job" and "well done" when praising your kid, is not as helpful as you think.

Taking to her TikTok account, where she shares her knowledge of child development,the doctor captioned the post: "Is praise poison."

"Did you know that when it comes to kids, praise is poison? Like you shouldn't say 'good job', you shouldn't say 'great work' you shouldn't say 'well done" she said.

Adding: "I had no idea either, and it never really sat well with me because of what I know of child development – isn't really compatible with that."

DR Sommer goes through the theory step by step, explaining that kids do not develop self-evaluative or self-conscious emotions until they are three years old.


These emotions are pride and shame, and before this age, kids look at the reactions of others to evaluate their own behaviours.

"Do you know how they learn to evaluate their own behaviours? They do it by it being modelled to them" she explains.

Adding: "So they look to adults, to figure out whether it was a good behaviour, or not, which means they should feel pride or shame, by seeing whether an adult feels pride or shame."

She said this is why kids need to have these good behaviours modelled to them, and explained to them repeatedly during their toddler years, so they can do it themselves.

She said: "Even when we are able to do it ourself we probably still need some help and revision,"

"Things like 'that's amazing,' 'great job'. 'this is really cool', 'well done' – these phrases are really useful but here is the caveat" she continued.

The doctor explained that when she listened to s seminar on "praise is poison" she was informed that praise shuts down the conversation.

"If your child comes up to you with a drawing, and they show it to you, and you say 'wow that's beautiful', there's nothing else to say" she explains.

Adding: "But if you say 'WOW how did you do that? All of a sudden you've opened up the conversation for the child to describe the behaviour that they had, and giving them an opportunity to start showing that self-evaluative emotion by walking through it."

DR Sommer says that therefore praise is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is important that the way you praise your child opens up the opportunity for language.

Giving an example she says: "Wow that is beautiful, can you tell me how you drew that?" or"Oh my gosh you just jumped on two feet, how did you make that happen."

Kristyn adds that sometimes parents use praise as a way to move their kids along, instead of taking the opportunity to engage with their child.

"So ya, praise isn't poison, children don't get self-evaluative emotions like pride and shame until they are about three, and when you are praising your child, ask them how they did it at the same time, to keep that conversation going.

DR Sommers post has been viewed over 495k times and has been met with a range of comments.

"I am guilty of moving them along sometimes. Man it is hard to stay invested after the nine millionth time they showed you the thing" commented one person.

Another said: "This has brought me to tears. I never realised before that I was shutting down the reaction by praising (and taking a photo)."

"Thank you, I will try this" commented a third.

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