NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A lot of parents say things to their kids like “good job” or “be careful,” but could your choice of words be doing more harm than good?
One expert is now questioning the way parents have spoken to their children for decades.
Jennifer Lehr, who wrote the new book “Parent Speak,” says praising too much can be a problem.
“Our children want to please us and ultimately you can create a people pleaser,” she tells CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.
She adds it can turn kids into praise junkies because it doesn’t explain what exactly was “good” about what they did.
“We use it to say so many different things,” Lehr said. “We use it to say ‘thank you,’ like if somebody clears the table.”
She says that clearing the table and other ordinary chores shouldn’t be cause for constant congratulations.
Some parents agree with her.
“Everything you use in excess loses value,” one mom told CBS2.
Psychologist Jeff Gardere says you should say thank you, even with chores.
“You’re also modeling behavior as far as teaching them manners and being kind,” he said.
But Lehr — herself a mother of two — avoids phrases like “you’re okay,” “say thank you,” or “be careful.” She considers them condescending and controlling. She considers saying “you’re fine” or “you’re okay” doesn’t teach a child to express themselves.
Try being more specific. Instead of constantly reminding your kid to be careful, Lehr says to have confidence in your child’s confidence.
Pediatrician Dr. Scott Goldstein says it can help kids learn from their mistakes.
“If you get a little bruise because you fell off the slide, then maybe next time you’ll be a little more careful on your own,” he says.
But Dr. Gardere says to not lose the balance of being nurturing to our children, as experts are constantly coming up with new parenting strategies.
The key, he says, is finding what’s right for your child — which can be different for every family.