Sometimes kids need a little space.

Parenting Boys Who Do Not Like Praise

by Shara JJ Cooper

You know that it's important to praise your son, but not all children love the attention. Your son might think it's cheesy or feel too independent to need his mother gushing. Even little children can feel this way, especially if they have an older sibling rolling his eyes in the background. But appropriate praise helps children develop a strong sense of self. If your son isn't a fan of being praised, don't go overboard. You can make him feel good while still being respectful of his feelings.

Types of Praise

Praising probably comes naturally to you. You want your child to feel good about himself so you encourage him any way you can. But, did you know there are two types of praise? According to the New Mexico State University, you either praise your child for doing or for being. When you say "I love you" you are praising your son for being or existing. When you say "You did an excellent job" you are praising him for doing something. Pay attention to which kind of praise your son dislikes. It's important to give both kinds of praise, but if he doesn't like the "mushy love stuff" you might want to leave your "I love yous" to a private time, like before bed.


One of the trickiest parts of parenting is teaching your child to praise himself. We are our own worst critics. A child that isn't fond of praise from others can be helped by learning how to praise himself. You can teach this by asking your son questions like "how do you feel about your work?" after he helps you with a task. Tell him he did a good job and that he should feel proud of his work. By reinforcing this, he is still getting praise but he isn't overwhelmed by it.

Giving Space

You son may not like praise because it embarrasses him. This might be particularly true if you are overly affectionate around other people. It might even embarrass him around other family members, like an older sibling. If so, give him space. You can always tell him what a good job he did later, in private. Before your son falls asleep, tell him you liked how he helped his siblings clean up and that you love him.

Be Subtle

Praise doesn't mean you need to yell "Great Job!" across the room for every positive action you see in your son. Give him little cues that let him know he's doing well, without crowding him or overwhelming him. A high-five, smile, wink or pat on the back might be all he needs. As long as he knows that you are proud of him and that he's doing well, he's getting the praise he needs.

About the Author

Shara JJ Cooper graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2000, and has worked professionally ever since. She has a passion for community journalism, but likes to mix it up by writing for a variety of publications. Cooper is the owner/editor of the Boundary Sentinel, a web-based newspaper.

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