It is a good thing to affirm our children for the praiseworthy things they do. However, there is a thin line between effective praise and overdoing it. Here’s how we can avoid the latter.
1. Praise specifically
It usually isn’t helpful when we compliment our children for something general. For instance, simply saying "You’ve been a good boy,” is too general and doesn’t convey to your child what exactly he has done right. Instead, "I like how you remembered to clean your room today!" or "I'm proud of the way you helped your brother with his homework” would be much more effective.
Effective praise reinforces positive, constructive behaviour and is highly specific. It is a genuine response to good things that your child has done. Most importantly, it tells him that he has done something positive and valuable, and makes him want to repeat it.
2. Praise intentionally
Most parents think the world about their children – and rightly so. We love and are proud of them, and we want them (and everyone else) to know it. However, if we praise them for every little thing they do, even when they have not done much to deserve it, our words lose their meaning and impact.
When we look out for opportunities to offer well-deserved praise to our children, we are able to offer praise in a timely and genuine way. For example, if your daughter reached out a helping hand to a younger child who fell down at the playground, tell her that was very caring of her, and that you noticed the child looked comforted when she helped him.
When we describe the impact of a positive action, our children learn that their decisions and choices affect others.
3. Praise effort
While we celebrate our children’s achievements, we should also affirm them for their effort and hard work. Don't wait to see the end result before deciding whether or not to praise your child. If your son show perseverance in practising a difficult Math concept, call it out and let him know you see the amount of effort he’s put into studying.
Praise and encouragement are as important to children as three square meals a day. When we praise them effectively and intentionally, we build their confidence and let them know they are loved unconditionally.
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