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Children learn who they are and what they are like from other people. The ways in which parents and other adults treat a child largely determines how that child feels about himself. It is essential to a child’s self esteem and feelings of self worth to hear encouraging words every day! One of the most important things we do as parents is let our children know how special they are. However, praise can sometimes be overdone or used inappropriately.

How can I use praise effectively?

  • First, decide what character traits (honesty, kindness, etc.), are most important to you and concentrate on developing those within your child.
  • Pay attention to the things that your child does right and encourage positive behavior with praise!! If the only time you respond to your child is when she misbehaves, she may think she is a bad person or believe the only way to get attention is to act out.
  • Be specific. For example, instead of telling her she is being a good girl try, “I really like the way you wait so patiently without complaining.”
  • Praise immediately. As soon as your child finishes a task or behaves appropriately let her know. It will have a greater impact, and may encourage the same positive behavior the next time.
  • Praise in other ways besides words. Listening intently when your child speaks, a quick hug or pat on the back, and a big smile works great too!
  • Praise frequently at first and then less often as the desired behavior becomes natural.
  • Be honest in your praise. Telling your child that she is the fastest runner in the world or the greatest artist may soon backfire. As your child grows she will find out there are others who can do these activities better and will lose trust in your judgments.
  • Be sure to praise for the attempts and struggles along the way to success. It is important to let your child know hard work and perseverance are praiseworthy also.
  • Praise can be overdone. If you praise your child for everything they do, they may grow so accustomed to receiving outside acknowledgement they lose the ability to feel good about their achievements without it.
  • Don’t praise your child in a way that sounds critical. Saying, “Wow, you actually remembered your homework for once” is not encouraging.
  • Don’t use praise in a way that puts others down. Saying, “You are so much better at math than your sister” may cause competition and resentment.
  • Let your child know that she is loved and appreciated regardless of her achievements. Everyone feels good when they hear, “I love you.” “I am proud of you.”
PAL - Praise
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