Tips to effectively praise your child

Tips to effectively praise your child


We all love good praise. Be it at work or home. Similarly, kids also love the praises and it is often used by parents to get things done. Parents praise their kids for finishing homework or winning in a game. I often hear parents using, wow, you are such a good boy. A good girl will finish her food. Praise increases self-esteem and confidence. It increases motivation and inspires kids to be more cooperative, persistent, and hardworking. Although praising has its positive effects some kinds of praise (you are smart, that was an amazing and good job) can have negative effects as well.

Negative effects of Praise:

We have talked about how praise can be effective, but at the same time, too much praise can also cause problems. It will make them fearful of trying new things. They can become people-pleasers. Kids will also lose self-motivation to do things and praise can be the only thing driving them to that. They will fear not being able to be at the top. It also gives a message that kids need their parent’s validation all the time.

Looking at all these negative effects, if you stop praising that can backfire as well. They will feel they are not good enough or you don’t care. So, this brings us to the question of how should you effectively praise your child?

Types of praise:

Before we move on to the how of praise, let’s understand the types of praises.

  1. Praising kid’s natural ability, like singing, dancing, intelligence, etc. for example: ‘you are an amazing dancer’. We have to be careful while suing this kind of praise. Over a while, it can make kids afraid to try new things. They might feel they will not succeed.
  2. Effort-based praise acknowledges their hard work and is more effective than personal praise. For example ‘you are working so hard on your science project’.

How to praise effectively

Coming to the most important part, here are some tips to praise effectively:  

  1. Be specific and clear: Instead of just saying, good job or that is a good drawing. Try and give some detail to your praise. Example: ‘I love how you have mixed those colors’, ‘That was good of you to wait patiently’. This can target the specific skill set. They will try to experiment with colors or be more patient next time too.
  2. Try and be sincere with your praise. Children can often sense when you are not being genuine. It will make them demotivated instead.
  3. Focus on effort over the result: kids need our admiration all the time not just when they have achieved something. Admire their hard work, patience, kindness, empathy rather than just skills. Praise the things they can control and not their gifted abilities such as singing, dancing, or studies. It will help them become a better person and they will learn to accept failure and try harder next time. Example: ‘I love how you were sitting so patiently’. ‘You worked hard for your dance completion, I admire that.

Some  more ways:

  1. Avoid extreme praises: if you use you are perfect or you are so smart, this will put up false standards for kids. For younger ones, it is still okay. But as kids mature, they will not risk trying new things for fear of failure. They want to maintain that standard.
  2. Avoid praise that compares your child to others: this goes without saying and is self-explanatory in how harmful this can be for your children’s mental health.
  3. Avoid praising kids for easy things or things they enjoy: This can set low standards and praise can lose its effectiveness. Also, if you praise for things they already enjoy, kids might start questioning and it will have the opposite effect. They might start enjoying things less. For example: if a kid likes eating his veggies, and you praise him for that. It will lose its value and they might not eat their veggies.

Some examples:

Instead of this: Try this:
Good Job Thank you for cleaning up, I admire how you finished your food.
You did it I like how you worked hard on your homework
You look so handsome/Pretty I love your dress or I like the print on your shirt.
That’s a great drawing I love the colors you have chosen for the house, I like how you mixed them up
That was nice of you I like how you helped the little boy when he fell over.

To conclude, kids need to be applauded for motivation. This does not mean we should admire them each time. Children tend to become self-motivated when their effort and hard work are admired more than the outcome. We need to be aware that we can lower children’s motivation by making them feel they need a reward for everything they do. Focus on the behavior rather than the child and don’t just praise them for a positive outcome, but also encourage them during moments of failure.

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