Are We Creating Generation Wimp By Overpraising Our Kids?

Are We Overpraising Our Kids
Well done my little wonderchild! You get a medal for….eating food today! I am so proud.

Should we be less mollycoddling and more ‘get on with it’ like Pierre?

I watched in horror on our recent ski holiday, as Pierre, my kids’ self-loving, unfriendly ski instructor smoked a fag and laughed nonchalantly with the equally self-loving, unfriendly lift operators (he really was called Pierre, by the way – when I wrote Mrs S.H.I.T.’s top tips for your first family ski holiday, I mistakenly didn’t think Frenchmen were actually called Pierre anymore).

But had he not heard the little girl in his ski class screaming the mountains down? The rest of the Alps had.

She was terrified to get on the lift. And all Pierre was worried about, it would seem, was how big his packet looked in his tight red all-in-one. Quite big by the way.

I fought back the urge to run over and angrily inform him that he was cold-hearted and negligent. I couldn’t quite bear the humiliation as I, that middle aged British ‘mum’ – the one who pitifully tries to flirt with him and pretends her kids aren’t really her kids as she drops them off, stinking of camembert and red wine (that’s me not the kids, they’re more chocopops and nesquik) – fell flat on my face in the snow as I tried to stomp over in ski boots.

But I wanted to ask him if he’d not done his ‘how to constantly make children feel good about themselves’ training? Was he in fact even DBS checked?

This child needed help. She needed care and attention. Gentle words of encouragement, and to be told how proud we’d all be if she managed it.

But lo and behold, when it was the extremely distressed child’s turn to take the button lift, she only went and grabbed it. Et voilà, off she went. The sobs subsided as she glided, seemingly quite happily, up the slope.

She’d done it, because she had no other choice. And let’s face it, although it seemed unkind at the time, Pierre’s anti-pandering technique worked a treat.

Is Generation Wimp a British thing?

It’s not just the ski instructors, the French and other nationalities, in general, seem to have the same mentality when it comes to parenting. They’re less of the mollycoddle variety, and more of the ‘get on with it because you’re a kid and you need to learn that some things are hard’ type.

And it’s effective.

When we dropped the littlest S.H.I.T. off at the nursery ski class on the first day, all the tiny tots were crying. I mean, who can blame them? Our wee man had thought he was going to be an extra in Frozen all week, and here we were leaving him with a strange woman who barely spoken any English. She did seem to have mastered ‘GET UP AND STOP CRYING’ however, very fluently.

But the French, German and Scandinavian parents left their children with minimal fuss. A quick peck on the cheek, ignoring any tears, and off they went for a lovely morning’s skiing. Not in the least bit uncaring, just practical. They did what they had come to do.

All that was left were the wimpy Brits, lingering on, hearts breaking, everybody crying through their goggles.  I could hear couples sniping over who would have to give up their morning of freedom to stay with little Johnny or Jemima because they could not possibly leave them with these barbaric teachers.

And guess what happened on day two? Of course, the other children knew crying wasn’t going to change anything, and off they went. Meanwhile the English kids were whimpering and clinging. Everybody was still crying, and the parents were definitely having the worst holiday of their lives.

So, my point is, are we guilty of over-love? Over-encouragement? Handling our offspring with kid gloves, telling them that they don’t have to do anything that puts them remotely out of their comfort zone (which, let’s face it, is pretty much anything that doesn’t involve hanging out with iPaddy).

Overpraising Our Kids For Doing Nothing Really

I am guilty of applauding my kids for such high achievements as getting dressed. ‘Well done, you pulled on those jeans so well, here’s a chocolate coin.’

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for praising the positive rather than focusing on the negative behaviour. But are we doing them a disservice? Will they expect a prize for merely getting themselves out of bed?

They will have no experience of failure because they’re being told all the time that everything they do is astoundingly brilliant. So, when they really do do something great, do our words of praise have no effect because they’re used to hearing it all the time?

I grew up with not a huge amount of praise from my parents. I never ever doubted their love, but my brothers and I were expected to work hard. No rewards, no £10 Woolworths’ voucher for getting a good report card, no ZX Spectrum for doing well in our exams.

But we did work hard. We always have done. It’s been instilled in us that opportunities aren’t offered to you on a gold platter. You have to earn them.

When the words of praise did come, I knew they were really, really meant and it felt amazing. Even now when my parents say they’re proud of me, I genuinely glow because those words aren’t dished out very often.

So maybe Pierre has the right idea. Ok, not so much the spray on ski suit, but treating kids as kids who are better off learning the hard way. Not little princes and princesses who think they have a right to rule the world and expect everything to come to them. That’s not real life, but working hard to get to where you want, is.

It’s not always an easy ride and the sooner we teach our kids that, the better it will be for them.

As featured in Huffington Post UK.


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  1. Katherine Coyle
    April 10, 2017 / 2:24 pm

    Amusing! (and true). I need that at the mo. xxx

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      April 10, 2017 / 8:57 pm

      Thank you lovely you for reading and commenting and being my loyal blog supporter from the beginning xx

  2. April 12, 2017 / 12:19 pm

    This struck a nerve as Im a bit hard ass and expect a lot from my kids and have been called out over it in the past by friend who told me they couldnt possible leave their kids. I went back to work at 8 months after both kids so they had to get used to nursery. When we go on holiday i put them into creche for one day or two mornings ao i get a holiday too! I think we have become a nation that believes that our children need us every minute or will become emotially damaged and its just not true. I hope im raiaing my kids to have some independance and trust. Its a controvertail subject tho. Im jealous of your camembert, red wine and pierre perving! #GlobalBlogging

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      April 15, 2017 / 6:19 pm

      ha ha! The Pierre perving was fun, though I couldn’t help but think he was a bit too disengaged from the kids, but he did get the job done. The kids who are left though from a young age are far more resilient that those (like mine) who haven’t been much. My littlest has been left a lot more, and it never bothers him in the slightest, unlike his sisters. It’s good for them I reckon. Our parents’ generation were far more hardcore with us all and it certainly didn’t do us any harm. Thx for commenting xx

  3. April 12, 2017 / 11:49 pm

    This was a great read. I often feel like I am the “hard” mom. I expect a lot from my kids. Not because I feel like it, but because I believe they can achieve it. I want them to know that hard work and dedication pays off. That life is not about being given what they want, when they want. I have come across moms that give me a look when I tell my children to get on with it. But hey, none of us are perfect. We just do the best we can!!! And yes, I agree with Pam, jealous of your camembert and wine… 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us lovely! #globalblogging

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      April 15, 2017 / 6:26 pm

      I like your attitude – I want my kids to realise that too, that things are not given to them on a plate, they need to work hard and achieve them. You’re so right though, we’re all just parenting as best we can – I’ll never be able to stop the overpraising thing, it’s in my nature. The camembert and wine was obviously wonderful, just not sure I needed it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Thx for commenting xx

  4. April 13, 2017 / 10:06 am

    This is such a thought provoking post. I think I can be an “over praiser”. But then for fear of being biased, my son amazes me every day with what he achieves and can do. I want to instil confidence and belief into him. My Mum over praised me and I do think it helped me in many ways. Thanks for sharing with #globalblogging

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      April 15, 2017 / 6:14 pm

      Love that your son amazes you each and everyday. Have to admit, I can’t stop being an ‘overpraiser’ – I’ve tried to kick the habit but that’s just me and like you, I think everything my kids do is brilliant, and I hope it makes them realise they’re awesome and can do anything they want to do in life. Thx for reading and commenting xx

  5. April 14, 2017 / 1:38 am

    Great post! ???? as A bi-cultural family this is something I’ve written about too. I love the Dutch get on with it attitude! And I also strongly believe children should do things for their intrinsic value not for rewards. Love the humour in your writing! Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime ????

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      April 15, 2017 / 6:04 pm

      I admire that get on with it attitude too and am a big believer in no rewards. I just can’t stop my overpraising I’ve realised – probs cause I’m their mum and I’m so proud of them, even when they wipe their own noses!! Thx for reading and commenting xx

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      April 15, 2017 / 6:04 pm

      I admire that get on with it attitude too and am a big believer in no rewards. I just can’t stop my overpraising I’ve realised – probs cause I’m their mum and I’m so proud of them, even when they wipe their own noses!! Thx for reading and commenting xx

  6. April 14, 2017 / 10:50 pm

    This is a great read and i WAS one of those moms that clapped and cheered for everything. I quickly learned that unless a brass band came in with Adele singing, I was letting them down, and setting them up for not trying at all. Bravo to you! #brillblogposts xo

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      April 15, 2017 / 6:12 pm

      I love that you were cheering your kids on with brass bands playing and Adele singing Lisa!! I have to admit, as much as I’m not into giving them rewards, I just can’t stop myself praising them constantly – I just think everything they do is so great. Thx for reading and commenting xxx

  7. April 17, 2017 / 5:39 pm

    ABSOLUTELY!!! I agree with you…praise should be earned! Too many kids feel entitled to EVERYTHING and I think it’s the “everyone gets a trophy” mentality that is to blame.
    Well done!

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      April 19, 2017 / 8:52 am

      I think this generation are used to hearing praise a lot of the time, for not doing very much, and I’m definitely guilty of overpraising my kids, but I find it hard not to. They’re certainly being brought up surrounded by positive praise compared to us, or even more compared to our parents. Thx for commenting xx

  8. April 17, 2017 / 9:57 pm

    This is I intruiging as you’ve made me realise I have no idea what type of parent I’m going to be. My daughter is only 4 months so I don’t think the ‘OMG that was such a loud fart, well done!’ quite counts yet. Or maybe I will be forever praising her wind – who knows!? #ablogginggoodtime

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      April 19, 2017 / 8:49 am

      I reckon you might be forever praising her wind – I still am. I can’t help myself from praising my kids, I think pretty much everything they do is awesome. Thx for commenting x

  9. randommusings29
    April 21, 2017 / 4:08 pm

    They’re not called the snowflake generation for nothing lol! I think over praising children sets them up on a path for some really harsh lessons when they grow up. In the real world, there’s no prizes for showing up and doing what’s expected of you, because, well, it’s what’s expected of you.
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      April 23, 2017 / 9:39 pm

      It’s true Debbie – I don’t think we’re doing them any favours as we’re not equipping them for later life when they need to be able to deal with tough times and need to work to achieve things. Thx for coomenting and hosting xx

  10. April 27, 2017 / 3:41 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with you, Susie. I think it’s important that parents and their children understand that losing isn’t bad. In fact, losing is a great way to build character in a child. When your child loses they learn.
    Few things make me more frustrated than participation ribbons or awards when it comes to kids and sports or other competitions. Kids need to know that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose and that both are just fine. Kids need to know that sometimes they don’t deserve to win, that they aren’t the best and that their efforts weren’t as effort-y as someone else’s.

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      May 2, 2017 / 11:01 am

      Agree Marko – the everyone’s a winner mentality isn’t real life unfortunately so our kids will have to learn the hard way when they realise that. Thx for your insightful comment.

  11. June 2, 2017 / 9:41 am

    Couldn’t agree more. When we emigrated to New Zealand I saw a massive difference in their attitude to kids. It was a case of shut up and put up. I’ve home schooled both of mine so they’ve still received my never ending”well done!!” Because that’s the way I’ve always been . I’m beginning to regret it now though …I wish someone would say well done to mummy now and again!! Great read . I came across you because we were both nominated by momof2littlegirls ! That made my weekend! And I got to read your wonderful post! X

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      June 3, 2017 / 10:43 pm

      What a lovely message – I was also thrilled to be nominated by momof2littlegirls, and I discovered your blog. 2 good things that came out of it. I’m a real “well done for everything” mum too but then that’s the way I am, and I just hope they realise that they also have to work hard and prove themselves in life. Interesting that in NZ, they’re more hardcore too. Maybe it’s just us Brits! Thx for this lovely comment x

      • June 4, 2017 / 1:24 am

        I thought of you this morning! I was sitting outside a cafe and a little girl, all of about 2 fell over flat on her face on the pavement… I had to stop myself from rushing over to her but her mum who was putting a smaller one into a pram shouted over “up you get. You’re all good”…!! Actually she’s nearly skinned all of her face!… so yes, I think maybe it’s just the Brits.
        Nice to meet you Susie and look forward to more of your S.H.I.T posts!! Fab name by the way! X

  12. June 7, 2017 / 1:13 pm

    Oh my word I LOVE you for writing this. I have some friends who praise their children for not getting cross about something. Or praise them for putting their rubbish in the bin. Why are we praising the normal life skills? Fab fab fab post! I wrote a whole lot more but then deleted it for risk of being shot down by the masses! #fortheloveofBLOG

  13. June 7, 2017 / 6:56 pm

    I think in moderation with everything, I think being independent is good mind and giving the child change to learn from errors with little encouragement I feel can help over persistent praise X #fortheloveofblog

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      June 12, 2017 / 9:39 am

      I think you’re right, getting the balance right is the tricky thing. Thx for commenting xx

  14. June 10, 2017 / 8:12 pm

    Such an interesting post – I’d actually never thought about it but you are so right. At the minute I praise my daughter for most things… but then again she’s only 2. Love the post, thanks for linking up with #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      June 12, 2017 / 8:51 am

      I noticed this morning I was doing it again – praising my little boy for putting on his coat for school! I just can’t help it though I think, it’s in my nature and hopefully it’s having some positive effects. Thx for commenting xx

  15. June 13, 2017 / 8:08 pm

    This is a challenging one as I think that I am so guilty of overpraising my daughter. Although maybe it’s because it’s the first time she’s done something. I do agree with the French way of life you describe that we should where possible let them get on with it. I hope that tomorrow I can easily just drop my daughter off at nursery, and she will be fine. We’ll see. Thanks for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      July 25, 2017 / 8:06 am

      I’ve realised that I’m an over-praiser and it’s just in my nature to gush at my kids, but I have to stop myself when they’ve literally just got themselves dressed! There’s definitely something to be said for the French way of bringing up kids. Thx for reading x

  16. June 16, 2017 / 1:26 pm

    It’s interesting, and hard to get the balance. I praise my eldest for working hard at school, but not for everyday things like getting dressed and eating dinner. I praise the youngest more but mainly because he is learning the basics! Thanks for linking up to #FridayFrolics

  17. June 17, 2017 / 6:48 pm

    I think we are guilty of over praising. Although, I did resort to the old chocolate coin and over the top praise when my two managed to get a poo in the potty! Anyone would have thought that they had won the Nobel Peace Prize the way I was going on. I was just relieved that the poo had hit the potty and not my cream carpets! #FridayFrolics

  18. June 17, 2017 / 7:57 pm

    Really great post.Genuinely enjoyed it!I’m so with you.I see it everywhere and it drives me potty! But I also think it can be hugely positive for a child to carry a sense of I’m sh.t hot into adulthood. The whole thing is a fine line as bloody usual.#fridayfrolics

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      July 25, 2017 / 8:08 am

      It’s such a fine line. I totally agree that it’s great to instill confidence into them so they think they can take on the world when they’re older but then, I’m aware that sometimes I’m praising my kids for eating food or doing their own laces. Tricky balance. Thx for reading and commenting.

  19. October 26, 2017 / 8:28 am

    Yeah I’m with you here. I like to think I’ve got a good balance. Obvs if my kids are really hurt I go to them, but I never mollycoddle. I am certainly the “come on up you get, shake it off and carry on” parent.

    • Susie | So Happy In Town
      October 26, 2017 / 10:51 am

      I think you’ve got the balance spot on. Mollycoddlng our kids can only make them expect that protection and indulgence their whole life. Hard to get it right though. Thx for reading.

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