When did it become normal to pay to have an advertisement placed in the back of your kid’s elementary school yearbook? That’s right, I said elementary school. More importantly, when did elementary school yearbooks become a thing? When I was in elementary school, you simply received a single-page photo sheet with thumbnail pictures of your classmates along with your own individual and most likely awkward picture that you would spend the rest of your life trying to hide.

Oh, how times have changed!

Today, it’s common for elementary schools to produce 40-plus page yearbooks documenting every class event, field trip, and school production. And parents are given space in the back to praise their little scholars.

Leafing through the yearbook my son brought home last week, I was flabbergasted at the notes and pictures submitted by parents. First Graders had ads! And so did a few Kindergarteners! What has this age group done but color butterflies, trace letters and numbers, play tag on the playground, make a mess, and talk loudly all day?

These are the types of things that make me wonder, “Am I the only one who thinks this is weird?” Perhaps it’s my Midwestern upbringing or the fact that I was raised by people who didn’t do a whole lot of superfluous praising, but the whole practice of lauding 6-year olds for showing up to class (because mom or dad drove them to school after yelling at them to get up and get dressed) is a little over the top for me.

Some ads made some sense. For instance, several commemorated a child’s last year at the elementary school before moving on to the much bigger middle school. Others were generous in recognizing particular teachers who helped their child or made their child’s time at the school special. But most ads were filled with the sort of praise usually reserved for actual accomplishments—like college graduation, receiving some sort of prize or award, or winning a competition; not the rather banal action of going from second to third grade. One set of parents even used the ad to promote their child’s YouTube channel. Groan.

Is this over-the-top coddling why older folks sometimes find it difficult to work with some from the millennial generation? It’s certainly part of the problem. After all, imagine how disappointing employment is if, after meeting the basic requirements of the job, you don’t get a full page ad in the local paper praising you for doing what you were hired to do?

The school my kids attend is 28 percent Hispanic—14 percentage points higher than the state average. Yet, looking at the back pages of my kids’ school yearbook, one would think no children of Hispanic origin attend school. Obviously, there are reasons for this. The Hispanic children who are bussed into our neighborhood school generally come from families who don’t have the petty cash to spend on these silly notes. Yearbook ads are clearly a practice of white, middle and upper middle class parents—an outgrowth of the helicopter parenting trend, where parents with too few children and too much time hover over their children ready to intervene and protect them from all of life’s terrifying realities.

Like helicopter parenting, overpraising kids for average tasks seems as likely to backfire as to help kids succeed. Just as helicopter parenting leaves kids incapable of making judgments for themselves, fearful, and far too dependent on Mom or Dad to face the harsh world, yearbook ads tell kids they can expect to be lavished with rewards just for doing what’s expected of them. That’s not how real life works.

I understand that parents are proud and happy to see their kids do well. But perhaps the best way to recognize a child’s pretty average milestones is to buy them a celebratory ice cream cone, pat them on the back, tell them they did a good job, and then send them outside to play for the summer.