Now, perhaps more than ever, children need positive feedback. The benefits of praising children include building self esteem, you're teaching your child to view him/herself positively, and it can even motivate your child. Praise can also teach kids good people skills like helping someone else. When children are praised properly, they have an opportunity to learn the value of effort and can learn to be resilient through tough times.
Wait, what do you mean when children are praised properly?
Well, like all things, there's a right a way and a not-so-right way.
To praise the right way, consider the following:
-Focus on the child's efforts and not the results. If they didn't win the game but did really well, focus on what they did well. For example, if your child's soccer team lost the game but your child kicked a goal, focus on that effort and praise the dedication put forth. Statements can include: "I really like the way you tried to draw that instead of just giving up," "I can tell you've been practicing!"
-Include gestures. Enthusiastic tones and supportive gestures (high five, applause, thumbs up) can engender good feelings too. According to research from Morris and Zentall (2014), this type of message can may also motivate a second attempt after a failure. .
-Be specific. Instead of just saying "good job" when looking at their artwork, say "wow! You used a lot of great colors and worked very hard!"
-Give praise and compliments when they're earned. Something as simple as "thank you so much for helping" shows your child that you recognize and appreciate their efforts.
-Accept that everyone’s different. Praise your child for her unique strengths and encourage her to develop and feel excited about her particular interests. This will help her develop a sense of pride and confidence.
-Be genuine. If your child presents a musical masterpiece that doesn't sound quite right, don't say "it sounds good to me!" instead, say "I can tell you're working really hard on learning that song."
-Evidence suggests that preschoolers develop better social skills when we praise them for displaying good manners (Garner 2006; Hastings et al 2007). If you see your child sharing, instead of saying "good job!" say "I like how nicely you shared your crayons!"
-Try to praise more than you criticize.
-Look for little changes and successes. Rather than waiting until your child has done something perfectly to give a compliment, try to praise their effort/improvements along the way.
-If your child isn't particularly fond of being put in the spotlight for praise, you can write a small note and leave it for them to receive privately or using the gesture listed above to quietly praise them.
Keep in mind that kids need support and encouragement at all times- not just when they've done something noteworthy. They need to know this support is available even when they are angry, sad, or overwhelmed. Recognizing and praising the efforts of your child can foster a warm and supportive environment that they can grow confident in.