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The Right Way to Praise Your Child
posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - September 10th, 2019
The Right Way to Praise Your Child is Free!
I’ve said it so many times, and it’s true: Kids will work hard for praise, and it’s great for parents because it’s free! One of the things I’ve mentioned on our member parent training calls is that there’s a difference between praising your child for working hard, showing effort (even if they failed at something) and trying something new vs. what I like to think of as “inherent qualities” (i.e., “you’re so pretty,” “look at how smart you are!” or “you’re so tall, I bet you’ll be a basketball star someday”). So, what are some right ways to praise your child?
The Right Way to Praise Your Child is Specific
Praise your child’s effort, not the result. The best way to instill perseverance and grit in a child who’s struggling with math, sports, music or even just learning to tie a pair of laced shoes is to focus on the work ethic shown, not achievement of the goal itself. It’s okay to praise a child who fails, because kids need encouragement!
Be very specific in your word choices and avoid superlatives whenever possible. Children who are over-praised can later feel pressured to perform and constantly seek outside approval, so saying things like “You’re the best/prettiest/smartest” is a bad idea. Instead of saying “I like your drawing,” say things like: “You chose such interesting colors to use today, they look great together!” or “You filled in the entire outline and put your name on it, too. Great job!”
The Right Way to Praise Your Child is Individual
Got twins? Close siblings? Look each one in the eye, speak the child’s name first and praise individual strengths. When you have a younger sibling who emulates an older one or have twins, praise can be especially challenging. One way to help emphasize each child’s individual strengths is to get on eye level, say their name and then something unique, like “Laura kicked the ball farthest at soccer practice, but Jack, you got dressed and made a bowl of cereal for yourself this morning without being asked. You both worked really hard today!”
When you praise your child, you impact!
Need More Ideas?
For even more effective ways to praise, encourage and reward your own child for a job well done, simply sign up for your TestingMom.com membership to access our Parent Resources Center and listen to my 30-Minute Mom radio shows, our recorded S.C.O.R.E. Training sessions and so much more!