Please Stop Saying This To Your Teens

“I’m so proud of you”

You are probably thinking, “what, that is a positive and encouraging statement.” It is said with the best of intention. I often find myself wanting to say it because it feels encouraging. But it isn’t and here’s why:

  1. Who’s taking credit?

The word pride implies in oneself. When you say “I’m so proud of you” your teen may feel as though you are making their achievement about your feelings. Of course this may not be true for all teens. Some of your teens may feel praised by this. Which takes me to my next point…

  1. Proud is a form of external praise

Again, you must be thinking…”why is that a bad thing?” External praise can set a standard. When say you are proud of your teen for an achievement you have set the standard to reach for your praise. In order to keep seeking your praise and approval teens will begin to feel they need to be perfect, that they cannot fail.

  1. The opposite of Pride is Disappointment

What are we really trying to do when we say with the best of intentions and innocently to our teens “I’m so proud of you”? Praise our children? No. We are probably trying to encourage them or instill a sense of success in their own achievements.

However, what do our teens hear? An external judgement, a verdict of our success or failure rate. If we can succeed and create pride in our parents, we can also fail and create disappointment. Again, this is a tremendous amount of pressure to be perfect. An impossible goal. I don’t know about you, but I have never met anyone perfect.

I try to avoid “well done” or “good job” as well for the same reasons. Here are some alternatives to saying “I’m so proud of you:”

  • “Wow! That’s so impressive”
  • I’m so happy for you
  • You must be so happy
  • You must be so pleased
  • I’m so pleased for you
  • “You look really pleased with your effort”
  • “Congratulations”

If your teen is struggling with self-esteem or other overwhelming emotions, click here to learn how we can help.

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