Making praise work:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Children are motivated by parental acceptance and approval which has been linked with good self-esteem. The most common way of displaying our acceptance and approval is through praise. Praise and encouragement often leads to more positive behaviour and in this article explores how to avoid the pitfalls of too much praise.

Make praise specific: Does your child know how they have pleased you? Try to notice specific improvements your child is making and comment on those, focus on what or how they have done something. Instead of saying a broad statement like “ good job” elaborate by saying what you noticed “I noticed how you shared your toys today with _____________” “you got dressed all by yourself – that’s great”.

Provide praise that encourages the potential for the child to talk about the experience of what they have done “You looked so happy when you were dancing on the stage” this allows them to think about their feelings and analyse their own efforts.

Also being aware that some children don’t like praise to be given publicly, so if you have a child who is more gentle in nature or quiet, he/she may benefit from more individual praise.

If your child is constantly looking for your approval, acknowledgement or praise for everything they do, make or create - here are some strategies to allow children to develop their self-acknowledgement skills:

Try to lead into the praise with a question: This will hopefully get them to think more consciously, for themselves, about what they have achieved and give you an idea of what to praise them for if it is appropriate. Your child calls you to see what they have created - You reply
“Oh I see you’ve built ______________ out of lego, what do you like most about it?” “Which part of your picture do you like best?”

Help children to develop their own sense of satisfaction and self-acknowledgement, hopefully they can draw on that experience in the future when faced with the same situation. “How did it feel when you did that?”

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