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To Praise or Not to Praise

Source: Google images

Source: Google images

Sridhar Ramanathan also blogs at www.ideasrs.com.


I have grown up on a diet of healthy praise. Especially from my father.

In many families praise does not come easily to people. Even if something is good, it would be treated in a matter-of-fact manner.

Let me give you an example. My mother was a good cook. On some days her sambhar would simply be out of the world. We kids would praise the sambhar and say “Good”.

However my father would say “Oh, our daughter & son-in-law are coming for lunch is it?”

Whenever my sister and her husband came home, the sambhar was indeed special. Hence this would be the way we would all tease her ‘special’ sambhar on an ordinary day.

My mother would laugh it off but I could make out that she was really pleased.

For a long time I thought that praise was natural in all families, but soon discovered it was not so. For instance in my classmate’s family his father would never praise anything my friend did, even if it was outstanding.

His father belonged to the school which said “Never praise your son to his face, because it will go to his head.”

There is a theory that if we praise a child often, he will get used to the praise and start craving for it. Therefore the child will start doing things just to get that word of praise.

I beg to differ. If our praise is authentic, and well communicated then I do not believe that any child will get ‘addicted’ to praise and crave for it.

Take a look at this situation.  My wife and I are on a visit to our daughter’s place. It is a Saturday morning and starts in a nice leisurely way. Her husband is busy fixing something in the garage and I am playing with her two sons (6 & 4).  My wife is in the kitchen chatting with our daughter. Our daughter gets a call from her friend to check whether they could drop in that evening; it seems fine. When the visitors arrive in the evening – husband, wife one kid (6 years old), we are all at home. Within minutes our grandsons take the kid to their play room and get busy. I am curious to see what they do so I excuse myself and go to the play room to observe the kids. There is a lot of play, sharing, some fights, but on whole the kids seem to have fun.


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Sridhar Ramanathan is the Founder of IDEASRS, where he is also a Strategic Innovation Coach. Sridhar’s mission in life is “to help those who want to do things better and differently”. His work involves conducting creative problem solving workshops for clients, and buidling competencies in creativity and innovation. He also blogs at www.ideasrs.com.

2 thoughts on “To Praise or Not to Praise

  1. Sudha Kumar

    Yes i guess in India we have reservations about praising our children too often.

    Authentic praise, as you have called it, will definitely go a long way, The only point I’d like to add is that we should also as parents learn to praise effort and actions ( like that of your grand children) rather than only outcomes.


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