According to Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, author of Praising Boys Well and Praising Girls Well, overpraising a child can get them hooked on success and celebration instead of being satisfied by their own accomplishments.
Instead it’s been suggested parents should use praise as a tool to not just boost self-esteem but to reinforce good behaviour and make kids feel loved, inspired and appreciated.
Here’s 7 ways to effectively praise your child
1. Praise the action
Instead of praising the child by saying ‘you were so good in the shops’, focus on complimenting their behaviour instead. Tell them that you like the way they listened and didn’t run around, this will help younger ones realise that it was their behaviour that earned them praise.
2. Boast about child at home
While it can be counterproductive to overdo praise in public, because it puts a lot of pressure on your child to perform, make sure you go to town at home! Talk up achievements as much as you like with your partner and other family members.
Tip: Be mindful of boasting about one child in front of other siblings, it might lead to resentment.
3. Honesty is the best policy
There’s no point in blatantly lying about your son’s awkward cartwheel just to please him, find a way to praise the effort instead. Avoid defining it as good or bad and instead say something like: “it looks as though all that practice you’re doing is helping”.
4. Don’t go overboard
Going over the top with compliments, especially on everyday achievements such as eating dinner, might lead your child to doubt or discount the praise. The first time your daughter blows her nose independently is a big deal, but it’s not after the 10th time. You don’t want you children to feel as though they must continually find ways to impress you.
5. Direct praise
When presented with a page of handwriting, instead of just telling them how lovely it looks, look carefully at the formation of letters, whether there are capitals at the start of each sentence and be specific. Your child will adore that you’re paying such close attention to their work.
Hint: Try to focus on the positives and work hard to overlook little mistakes; this will inspire them to keep trying.
6. Non-verbal clues
It’s not always possible to praise your child verbally, especially if they are performing on stage or not in speaking distance, so try using body language to express your approval. Give your child a huge smile, a double-handed fist pump or a high five to show you’re proud of their accomplishment.
7. Avoid sarcasm
Kids often don’t get humour, sarcasm or rhetorical questions, in fact it might lead them to think you are pointing out a failure and criticising them. Try celebrating their achievement in a positive way, children can be easily offended.
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