Is it wrong to tell your 5-year-old how perfect you think they are all the time?

It’s funny how we communicate with kids sometimes. But they get quite good at detecting whatever’s really behind our words.

Toddlers might enjoy the funny sounds we make as we coo and goo back at them in hyperbolic, positive reflection. But throughout childhood, kids are prone to recognize genuine affirmation for true talent displayed.

They pay close unconscious attention whenever praised for the same things by different people.

A few teachers say you’re good with numbers, and Math gets internalized as part of your identity; you make kids laugh in class more than once, and now you’re a class clown.

I think for the most part, young kids should be able to view the grownups in their lives as just big, smiling faces, happy to see and hear those kids do and be whatever they are no matter what.

“I have this theory that if we’re told we’re bad then that’s the only idea we’ll ever have. But maybe if we’re surrounded in beauty, someday we’ll become what we see.”

So I believe consistent praise and acceptance is important.

But then it’s also good for kids to experience other types of consistency. For example: parents sticking to consequences advertised for misbehavior.

And when kids make mistakes, we should walk them through exactly what happened; and then either show them where they could do better, or help them realize they might have a weakness there to shore up by focusing their energy wherever they can really thrive instead.


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