The power of praise for your child
Created by Shikha Batra Updated on Jun 01, 2021
“You make me proud”
“You have great ideas”
“You are worth it”
“I appreciate you”
“I know you did your best”
“I trust you”
Who doesn’t like praise as compliments make our day the same theory would extend to our children too.
When our children hear all these and much more lavish praise, it makes them feel good and when they feel good they behave better.
The power-packed ways by which praise can benefit our children would include:
1) Praise is an effective way to reinforce good behaviour as positive reinforcement can condition a child to repeat the praised behaviour.
2) A correctly delivered praise could increase intrinsic motivation in children and enhance their engagement and perseverance.
3) Praise can help them build their character.
4) It also boosts empathy in them.
5) It can contribute to making them resilient.
6) Regular praise can nurture a child's confidence.
7) It can make them feel happy.
8) Praise can teach them how to talk and behave positively.
9) It can help them cope up better with challenges.
10) It can help them have good self-esteem especially for children with low self-esteem.
Praise is like medicine which must not be administered haphazardly or as and when one desires. There are some cautions about its unexpected side effects, some rules about dosage and timings.
Some of the negative effects praise can have on children would include:
Wrongly worded praise can reduce children’s desires to take on challenges.
It can lower achievement.
It can decline their motivation.
It boosts narcissism.
It even makes children more interested in ridiculing others and tearing them down.
In fact, using them indiscriminately could be counter-productive.
Here are some rules of praising which are in true sense the best ways to encourage our children :
1. Refrain from making insincere praises as they could not only be ineffective but harmful too. Words that are encouraging but inconsistent with their self-view could be perceived as insincere especially when they think their own behaviour is contrary to the praise. Such type of encouragement can lead to self-criticism in children and even intentional sabotage to resolve such discrepancy. For example: “You are an angel!” can be replaced with “ It’s so generous of you to share your sandwich.”
2. It’s wise to make specific and descriptive comments rather than being generic as they are found to be more effective in promoting the desired behaviour. Mentioning the specific aspect of your child's performance and describing what behaviour led to positive outcomes would be more helpful to the child. It would also signal that you have paid attention and you really care for them. For example: “Good job!” is more generic while “You came with a thoughtful answer to that question” would be more descriptive as well as specific.
3. Praise children's efforts rather than their ability and achievement so that they learn to attribute their success to their efforts. By doing so children would focus more on putting in the effort to practice or develop skills rather than pursuing results per se. It will help children adopt a growth and a learning mindset which would in turn increase their intrinsic motivation, persistence and enjoyment. When facing failure these children would know that failure is avoidable if more efforts are put in by them. For example -rather than saying ”What a smart girl you are!”, one could say “ You are good at trying different ways to solve a tough puzzle”.
4. Conditional praise should be avoided as these could be controlling or manipulative as the child might avoid activities that may cause negative judgement. It can act as an extrinsic motivation thereby reducing a child's intrinsic motivation. As a result, these children can have less stable self-esteem. For example: Rather than saying “You did very well on that one, just as expected” one could say “ You did well on that one by making a good shot.”
5. Avoid encouragement by comparison with their peers as these can backfire at times. It can make them feel depressed, show more frustration and anxiety rather than motivating them when they fail. It might send a wrong message across that winning is more important than learning. For example, one could say “You solved this problem with such great focus” rather than saying “You are smarter than your classmates!”
6. Avoid praising tasks which are easy or over-praise anything as these can be considered as insincere. Inflated praise for children with low self-esteem can, paradoxically, lower their motivation and sense of self-worth in setbacks. While in children with high self-esteem it can cultivate narcissism. Overpraising on the other hand reduces intrinsic motivation and might signify failure for them.
7. Provide spontaneous affirmation or offer words of appreciation as a surprise. Compliment something authentically when they’re not expected.
Praise is a double-edged sword. And not all encouraging words would be equal or beneficial for our children. In fact, if used copiously, some types of encouragement can do them more harm than good. So be wise and use your judgement while praising your child.
| Jul 27, 2021
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