How Should We Praise Children?
Not all praise is helpful, and there are better ways to empower kids.
In this newsletter, we provide you with notes on How Should We Praise Children? an episode of Talking Sense with Dr Martha.
Dr Martha is a clinical psychologist and mother. She puts a thought provoking lens on child behaviour that all parents witness and see every day and helps to support you and your child.
Save time and read our notes on how to praise our kids.
Topics Covered in this Summary
Types of Praise and How to Give It
Types of Praise and How to Give It
Children love hearing that their parents are proud of them, and praise can have a powerful effect on kids who learn and think differently. It can motivate them to keep trying hard and fuel them to find strategies to overcome challenges.
However, not all praise is helpful, and there are better ways to empower kids by using different types of praise.
Here are three types of praise and how to use them:
There is no doubt everyone loves a good compliment, especially kids. But the type of compliment and how it is said can have lasting effects on a child. When you compliment someone's intelligence, skill, or any other attribute that appears to be fixed, you are using this type of praise.
However, with this kind of praise, children will have a standard they need to meet, which may make them anxious if they don't. With this mindset, a child can begin to fear failure.
Here are some examples of how to incorporate compliment praise into your communication with a child:
Instead of saying, “You are so clever”, you can try and say, “You did a great job.”
When a child shows you a drawing and asks for comments, turn it over and ask what they think of their drawing. After they tell you, celebrate with them and give them praise.
It may seem like a good idea to say things such as, "You're brilliant!" or "You’re a good boy/girl!" However, there are better ways to encourage children other than by praising them.
As parents, we want kids to be proud of their work without us saying how it makes us feel. Therefore, we encourage them to talk about it.
Words that Encourage
This is when you praise effort rather than achievements, you're praising process, hard work, not giving up, and perseverance. This type of praise help children to keep working on challenging tasks.
Examples on how to use encouragement as praise:
When your children study hard on that math homework or exam, praise them by saying, “You worked hard on doing your math homework, you are doing a great job.”
You can also use encouragement before your child does something. For example, “I know you’re nervous about the test, but you’ve studied hard. No matter how it turns out, you’ve done your best.”
Less confident children may need additional encouragement. When praise focuses on effort, children are more likely to see trying hard as a good thing. They’re also more likely to keep trying and be optimistic when facing challenges.
Words that Connect
This is about connecting with your child's work, which is much more conversational, but it is a form of praise because it highlights your child's decisions.
This shows your child that you value them as a person, no matter what they've done, and it also helps them see that who they are is different from what they do.
As you know, children desire to be seen and heard. This kind of praise is deeper and takes more time and practice.
Here are some examples of how to connect with your child’s work using this type of praise:
This kind of praise is a way of saying, "Tell me how you got to where you are." Everything your child does comes from a very personal place.
When your child draws a cat and wants to show you, instead of giving praise immediately, you could ask, "Why did you draw a cat?" Or “What does this cat represent?”
This is a kind of praise that parents don't use very much, probably because it feels so unfamiliar. But by doing this, you can help your kids learn how to solve problems on their own and become more independent.
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