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Preschool Graduation: Too Much, Too Soon?

Published on: December 30, 2013

Much has been written these days about the way we parents (and grandparents!) over-praise our kids. We toss trophies at every soccer player. We trade dollars for A’s. We shower flowers on our tykes for prancing around onstage – in the back row – for two minutes.

So it shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise when my granddaughter’s preschool produced an all-out, high school graduation-style end of the year assembly, complete with slide shows, vocals, video interviews and rose-clutching, camera-toting parents hanging on to every video clip and every word (hey, it’s true - kids do say the darndest things!) uttered on the oversized screen.

Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, in their book, NurtureShock, write, “Excessive praise distorts children’s motivation; they begin doing things merely to hear the praise, losing sight of intrinsic enjoyment.” In my book, Beyond Smart, psychologist Wendy Mogel comments, “Kids grow up thinking everything they do is precious.”

All true. But watching the expressions of pride on the faces of these five-year-olds pretty much neutralized any conflicting feelings I’d had about “celebrating” a preschool rite-of-passage. Yes, it was all a bit over-the-top; no, we didn’t get those kinds of accolades (and bouquets!) when we were young; and OK, they probably didn’t really need that third photo/music montage.

But it’s hard to find fault with a morning filled with laughter, joy, and ready-made memories. After all, isn’t this – taking pleasure in learning, growing, and celebrating with friends and family – what it’s all about? That and the full DVD package none of us could resist ordering.

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