Giving praise is a powerful tool that we as parents have at our disposal and as a parent, I’ve realized the value of giving praise to children. You can simply tell by the smile on your child’s face that giving praise makes them feel really good. Giving praise can help to build your child’s self-esteem. It can encourage more positive behavior and serve to encourage a child.
Giving praise needs to be done correctly if it is going to be meaningful and benefit the child. How often do we hear parents or teachers say, ‘good girl” or “good boy” when they want to praise a child for something they did well. They mean well but experts say that praise is not really meaningful when it is so general. When used correctly it can greatly benefit your child.
What’s Important about Giving Praise
Child-rearing experts highlight that:
- Meaningful praise is about providing positive feedback to the child.
- For praise to be meaningful, it needs to be specific rather than general or vague. ”You felt so angry and yet you chose not to punch that boy. That takes self-control. Well done!”
- Praise that is vague can be misinterpreted. When we say “good girl’ or “good boy’, children can read other messages into it. A child may interpret this as “does this mean, I am bad when I do something naughty?”
- Praise is meaningful when it is sincere. Children know when we are not being truthful and this can make them feel bad about themselves.
- For praise to be meaningful, we need to pay close attention so as to notice real positive behaviors displayed by the child.
Using Specific Praise
- Giving specific praise is something we as parents have certainly found very useful.
- Giving specific praise is more meaningful to the child. You are giving your child qualitative feedback that makes them aware of the strengths they have and contributes towards building their self-esteem.
- It takes more effort than just saying ‘Well done’ and means you really have to focus on what your child has done and give them that feedback, but the result is worth it. My son had lots of homework to get through and worked really hard and diligently to get through it. I said, “Even though you had so much work to do, I noticed how hard you worked and persevered to get it done.” He smiled and said, “Yes, Daddy I’m a hard worker”. This was more meaningful than saying, “Good boy, you are done with your homework”.
- It helps to encourage the behavior you wish to see more of. Sometimes it means you have to keep a close eye to ‘catch’ your child doing what you would like, “I noticed that you packed away your toys after you played today. That must have taken a lot of effort but you did it! Well done!”
- It helps to encourage, “These sums seem really hard for you, but you are really trying your best. That takes courage”.
- Your children learn how to, themselves, give meaningful praise to each other! It’s wonderful to hear them complement each other in this way!
Something for You to Do
- Make an effort for the rest of today and find opportunities where you can give each of your children specific praise. Be sincere.
- Provide meaningful praise for these situations:
- Your son offered to fix his sister’s doll.
- Answer: “It was very kind of you to help your sister with her doll.”
- You went shopping with your daughter and she did not keep on asking you when you are going to be done.
- Answer: “You were really patient whilst I did the shopping. That was really nice.”