Praise is a powerful tool to motivate and encourage children to keep moving and trying. It spurs them on and makes them take the next step with confidence.
However, praising kids has both positive and negative effects. As parents, we often tell our children, “You are so smart,” or “Well done,” to encourage them to continue what they are doing and achieve better results. While it encourages them, it can also give your children the impression that they have not done something well when you do not praise them.
In this post, we discuss the different types of praises and the various facets of praising your children. We also discuss how you can praise your child appropriately to influence their behavior.
Types Of Praise
There are two main types of praise, namely personal praise and effort-based praise. Both of these focus on different aspects while encouraging children to display good behavior.
1. Personal praise
When your child is good at something, you should praise them personally. For example, if they sing well, tell them that you love their voice. This can bring out your child’s natural or acquired talents and encourage them to perform better.
However, you should be careful before heaping personal praises on your children. In some cases, they might feel that they cannot do anything beyond their natural talents and might be less willing to try new things.
2. Effort-based praise
This type of praise is often used to acknowledge the effort someone puts into something. For example, if your child performed well in a math test, personal praise might sound like, “You are so clever!” but effort-based praise goes like, “I love that you have put in extra effort to excel in your math test!”
Effort-based praise is more effective and empowering than personal praise because it lets your children know what behavior is right.
Benefits Of Praising Kids
1. Improves social behavior
Praising kids when they share, take turns, or get along well with others will encourage them to behave well in a social setting. You can also encourage them to speak kind words with others or help others when they are in a difficult situation.
2. Improves self-esteem
3. Encourages compliance
Praise your child when they follow the rules and listen to your instructions. Little things like appreciating them when they quietly engage themselves in productive activity when you are busy goes a long way in encouraging compliance.
4. Increases their motivation to learn
Encouragement and appreciation can motivate your child to learn new things, and correspondingly, do well in school.
5. Encourages them to put in the effort
When your child makes an effort to achieve something, your praise can encourage them to continue on that path. Whether they are learning a new skill or are making an effort to change an unpleasing behavior, praising them will yield positive results.
Why Excessive Praise Is Not Advisable?
While praising kids is a good way to encourage good behavior, too much of it could prove detrimental. Here are some reasons why excessive praise is not advisable.
1. Praise turns into manipulation
Often, praise becomes a tool for making your child do what you want them to do. When you praise them not for something they have done but for something you wanted them to do, you are essentially manipulating them.
2. Children seek out your opinion
When we praise children excessively, they fail to make their own choices or form their own opinions. Instead, they look to you or others to praise them for their achievements. They make decisions based on what others think of them or what reaction they can elicit from others.
3. They think only achievements matter
When you excessively praise children for doing something well, you are unconsciously instilling the idea that they should excel at whatever they do. In such cases, when they fail at a particular task, they may have a hard time coming to terms with it.
4. They stop challenging themselves
Excessive praise can encourage them to try to maintain the picture of perfection every time. They may feel scared of venturing out of their comfort zone for fear of falling short of your expectations. This may eventually force them to remain within the boundaries and stop trying to challenge themselves.
5. They feel entitled
Excessive praises can give them a sense of entitlement, and they may end up thinking they need to be praised for every little thing they do.
25+ Tips To Praise A Child
Here are a few practical ways in which you can praise your child appropriately or make certain changes to the way you approach or do things to make them feel valued and loved (3).
1. Be specific
Instead of making sweeping statements, be specific when you mention which part of their behavior pleased you.
2. Be honest
Being honest and sincere with your praise is crucial as it boosts your children’s confidence and self-esteem.
3. Look at them
Praising them while your attention is diverted by your work or your phone does not work. Maintain eye contact while you praise your child.
4. Praise individual strengths
This tip is handy when you have more than one child, and they invariably compete. You can point out the individual strengths of each child to encourage them.
5. Praise little things
Praise your children when they complete small tasks independently. For instance, praise them for finishing their homework and arranging their things neatly.
6. Turn a negative point into a positive
If your child feels they are not capable of completing a task, break the task up into manageable chunks or give them an easier one so that they do not lose confidence.
7. Let them know their progress
You can drop in words of encouragement when they have been practicing something for a long time and have improved. This helps them see how far they have progressed.
8. Talk about the outcome of their actions
9. Talk about their feelings
Give names to their pride or disappointment. Naming an emotion makes it easier for them to deal with it.
10. Avoid labels
When you say things such as “my little superstar,” you aren’t helping your children grow even though the praise is positive. Avoid these labels and praise them for their behavior.
11. Praise genuinely
Children quickly learn to recognize dishonest praises. Instead of saying, “You are the best at school,” say, “You are a quick learner!”
12. Be spontaneous
Do not wait until your child has finished a task to offer praise. This will only teach them to look to you for praise or validation after completing a task. Praise spontaneously.
13. Phrase your praise positively
When you praise your child for not engaging in bad behavior, make sure you phrase your words positively. Instead of saying, “Good thing you didn’t break it,” say, “I am proud of you for playing gently with the toys!”
14. Praise the effort, not the achievement
Make sure you praise the effort your child puts in to achieve a task and not the result. This way, they learn that the effort they put in is greater than the result they achieve. Even if your child wins in a competition, tell them how much you appreciate the effort they have put in instead of saying that you are proud of the prize they won.
15. Avoid conditional praise
Conditional praise is given when your child does something in the way you want it done. It is often controlling and manipulative. Children assume they can get praise only if they behave in a way you think proper.
16. Include nonverbal praises
There are many nonverbal praises you can give to encourage your child. A smile, a hug, a pat on the back, a thumbs-up are all examples of nonverbal praise.
17. Give visual rewards
Stickers and other visual aids make excellent praise materials. Give your child stickers for behaving well or doing something well.
18. Give surprises
Children love surprises. Surprise your children by offering them a reward when they do something well – it could be a new toy or even a trip to a park.
19. Make them believe in themselves
Praise your children for their strengths and let them feel excited about their interests. This will encourage them to explore their interests further.
20. Offer constructive criticism
You should also make it a point to offer constructive criticism so that they learn where they have gone wrong and how they can improve. Constructive criticism is also necessary to make them ready to face the world.
21. Use age-appropriate praise
Toddlers and young children would love to be singled out and praised, while teens might not appreciate it as much. Choose age-appropriate praises for your children.
22. Allow them to own their imperfections
No human is perfect – your child isn’t, and neither are you. If you do not like a particular behavior, try to express it in a way that makes them feel better. Make them realize that no two individuals are the same and everyone has their strengths and weaknesses.
23. Emphasize their differences in a positive light
Some inherent qualities of people are often seen negatively by society at large and for the wrong reasons. They might affect your child negatively. You can bring out those differences in your praises in a positive way. For example, if your child is an introvert, you can say, “I love that you think before you talk.”
24. Recognize hard work
When your child works hard to achieve something, tell them that you appreciate their effort. It shows your children that you notice their work, and they also realize how much they are learning through it.
25. Associate success to them and not you
What children achieve in life is theirs. But parents usually see children as extensions of themselves and associate their children’s achievements as reflections of the parents’ capabilities. Instead of saying, “I am proud of you,” say, “You should be proud…”
26. Work around their strong points
Most children dread failure because they fear the backlash they will receive from their parents. Instead, you can identify what your child enjoys doing – it could be a subject or activity at school – and work around it.
27. Teach self-care
If your child is too absorbed in a project, tell them to take time out for self-care. Self-care is an important aspect of good mental and physical health.
28. Let them analyze
At times, your child will ask your opinion about their performances. Instead of saying things outright, ask them what they thought about their performance and how they think they will be able to improve. This gives them a chance to analyze and improve themselves.
Children of any age love praises. When a parent notices their actions and praises them, they feel they have accomplished something. However, giving praise is a double-edged sword. Too little or too much of it can be equally detrimental. As a parent, it is your duty to make your child independent and empower them. You can do so by offering praises justly. We hope these tips help you in the right way.
2. Alisa Bedrov and Grzegorz Bulaj; Improving Self-Esteem With Motivational Quotes: Opportunities for Digital Health Technologies for People With Chronic Disorders; Frontiers in Psychology (2018).
3. The Best Way to Praise Kids Who Learn and Think Differently; Understood for All
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