How To Praise Kids In The Right Way: 28 Useful Tips

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Praising kids is a way to tell them that they are doing things right. It can also keep your child motivated and encouraged while nurturing their confidence and self-esteem.

When you praise your child, you show them to think and talk positively. However, praising kids can be a tricky task as a wrong choice of words may affect their tender minds and heart. So, while you try to praise your child’s efforts, try to be sensitive.

Generally, there are different ways to praise children of different ages. Besides, praising just doesn’t only have to be phrases like “good job” or “well done, ” you can be innovative in your expression to make your child feel loved and praised.

Keep reading as we give you an overview of various facets of praising and 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 and also be mindful of exaggeration. When showering praise, new ways can be introduced to the child to be better.

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. It can serve as an incentive to encourage them to develop their abilities.

Benefits Of Praising Kids

Praise is useful for encouraging good behavior in children (1). Start by acknowledging good behavior and appreciate your children for it. Here are a few benefits of praising children.

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 and build their social skills, such as being polite to strangers. 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

When you praise children for the good things they do, you are helping them develop self-esteem (2). They become aware of their strengths, which serves as a boost for their confidence. With time, your children will begin to appreciate the good things that improve their 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 unpleasant behavior, praising them and acknowledging their little efforts will yield positive results.

Why Is Excessive Praise 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, which could lead to distrust down the line.

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. Alternatively, they should be made to recognize their own achievements and how far they are progressing or growing.

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

You can tell them how their actions affect others. If they help you with household chores, mention how their help eased your work.

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. Acknowledge every desirable behavior.

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 is 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.

When a parent recognizes and compliments their behavior, kids feel they have accomplished something. Praising kids might be personal or appreciative of their sincere efforts. However, giving praise could be beneficial and detrimental. While praising your children may employ positive social conduct, self-esteem, obedience, and other benefits, too much praise can be harmful. As a parent, you must help your child become self-sufficient and empowered; therefore, you should praise your children fairly and sincerely and be honest and spontaneous in your compliments.

Key Pointers

  • The right amount of praise for children improves their social skills, increases their self-esteem, and motivates them.
  • While praising your child, be articulate about the compliment, be genuine and spontaneous.
  • You may also help them see the positive aspects of a bad issue by providing constructive criticism or by allowing them to take pride in their imperfections.
  • Also, ensure not to praise them in excess as they may start to feel entitled and stop challenging themselves to give their best.


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Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri

Dr. Maymunah Yusuf Kadiri, popularly referred to as ‘The Celebrity Shrink,’ is an award-winning neuro-psychiatrist and mental health advocate with over 15 years experience. She is the medical director and psychiatrist-in-chief at Pinnacle Medical Services. She has created the innovative mental health app in Africa, HOW BODI. Dr. Kadiri is a Goldman Sachs Scholar on Entrepreneurial Management of Pan Atlantic... more

Nisha Bharatan

Nisha Bharatan is a freelance writer with experience in writing health and finance content for various Indian and international clients. An engineer by profession, she also did content marketing courses to complement her interest in writing. Nisha writes articles centered around kids’ development, their activities, crafts, games, and fun elements that keep children and families entertained. Her research skills and experience... more