To Praise or Not to Praise

How often do you stop and notice something positive that your child is doing? Take note of the number of times you give your child negative feedback about his behaviour during the course of a day.  If you find yourself correcting, nagging and criticizing, jot down the areas that you focus on.  Now ask yourself how you can turn things around so that you minimize the negative exchanges and increase the positive comments. Catch your child doing something positive in one of these areas.   

Limit using evaluative, gushy praise, “Oh you are such a good boy.”  or “What a wonderful job you have done here, this is fantastic!”   

Use and Misuse of Praise

 Describe what you see: “I notice you sharing your favourite toy.” or “You got dressed and grabbed your knapsack without being asked this morning.” or “You cleaned up after yourself in the kitchen.”  You don’t have to sound like a robot.

Notice effort rather than result: Children feel encouraged when you notice their positive effort, and that encourages the process of learning rather than the focus on results.

State the impact: “ I feel relieved to walk into a tidy kitchen.” or “John looked grateful that you shared your toy with him.”

Ask children how they feel about their work or ask them to tell you about it.  “I see red and blue clouds and a tree in your painting.”  Tell me about it.  Or, “What made you think of writing about this subject?”

This works well in other relationships too.  How often do you express sincere appreciation to your partner, your colleague or somebody who has provided a service?  Specific feedback gives people information about what they are doing that is working.  We all benefit from a positive approach.  What positive action have you noticed today?  Have you said something?