Positive Parenting: The Impact Of Praise For A Child
Giving your child quality praise on a daily basis can have a big impact on his behavior, but it’s important to learn how, when, and why to praise your child in order to reap the most benefits.
All children thrive on receiving praise. It’s a huge motivator for good behavior! However, quality praise is so much more than endless utterances of “Good job!” and “Wow, cool!” Empty encouragement without follow through can fall flat over time. Giving your child quality praise on a daily basis can have a big impact on his behavior, but it’s important to learn how, when, and why to praise your child in order to reap the most benefits.
If you want to give your child effective praise, be sure to keep these strategies in mind:
1. Children need praise - and a lot of it!
Research shows that children not only respond positively to praise, but also to how frequently they are praised. Kids need to hear hundreds of statements of praise each day in order to feel confident, accepted, and loved. Generic phrases like “Great job!” and “Nice!” don’t count, so be sure to tailor your praise to the exact behaviors or qualities you want to emphasize to your child. If this seems to be a bit overboard, try simply narrating your child’s behavior that you like. Whether it’s tidying up her room, putting her shoes on by herself, or eating her dinner without complaining, help narrate step-by-step what your child is doing. This shows your child that you are paying attention and value what they are doing.
2. Praise specific behaviors that you want your child to repeat.
Try to avoid generic praise that can fall flat with repetition. When you praise your child, be as specific as possible about what exactly you are pleased with. Instead of “Great job on your drawing!” try saying “I really like how many different colors you chose and how you worked so carefully on this dinosaur picture!” Instead of “Thank you for getting dressed!” try saying “It helped me so much that you took the time to get dressed all by yourself!” Even young children can be motivated by being encouraged to do specific behaviors, especially when they know they’re being helpful in some way.
3. Praise should be immediate.
Children have a hard time internalizing praise when it is given too long after the action. As much as possible, try to praise the behavior immediately and quickly. Young children especially have a hard time associating praise with a behavior when the praise is given after too much time has passed. When your child exhibits a good behavior, offer praise immediately.
4. Praise can be enhanced with physical touch.
The effects of praise can be magnified when coupled with some kind of physical touch. Young children might appreciate a hug, kiss, or back rub, and older children might enjoy a high five or pat on the back. Some children don’t like physical touch, so be sure to carefully interpret how your child reacts to your actions. The act of physical touch doesn’t have to be a big ordeal - it can be something as simple as rustling your child’s hair or quickly touching their hand. Physical touch is a great way to show your child that they are safe, loved, and cared for.
5. Praise should be heartfelt and authentic.
The biggest issue many parents have with encouragement and praise is that it’s inauthentic and forced. The more frequently you take the time to praise your child, the more you will be able to observe all their wonderful qualities instead of focusing on bad behaviors. Think about how often children hear about what they are doing wrong. Don’t hit the dog! Stop throwing toys! Eat faster! Work harder on your homework! Children hear much more criticism on a daily basis than they do praise. The more your child hears positive feedback on his behavior, the more motivated he will be to continue those behaviors. Don’t just praise every little thing your child does; instead, really focus your time and attention on what you value in your child and what kind of person you want him to become. Think about the core values you want your child to possess. Is it kindness? Inclusivity? Perseverance? Wisdom? Praise behaviors that resonate with these core values that matter to your family, and give praise from the heart.
6. Praise should come from your undistracted presence in your child’s life.
Giving your child praise should illuminate your watchful presence in her life. Parents can’t praise behavior or traits when they’re not around to observe them, or they’re too distracted by chores, errands, work, phones, or the television. Parenthood isn’t easy - and we’re all busy in some way or another. If you find yourself overwhelmed with distractions, try setting aside just five minutes each day to give your child your undivided attention. These five minutes can make a big difference in your child’s mindset! Turn off the television, silence your work emails, put your phone in another room, stop folding the laundry, and ask your child to pick an activity to do with you. If you have a young child, you could do a puzzle, dance to music, or go on a walk around the block. If you have school-aged children, you can play a board game, paint together, or listen to your child read a book. Once you’re able to dedicate five minutes per day of undivided attention, progress from there. Try doing ten minute activities with your child. If you have some free time, don’t set a time limit, and play with your child until you both tire of the activity. Observe who your child is - his personality, his quirks, his imagination, his interests, and his mannerisms. Appreciate the wonderful human being you’ve created and let your child know how much you love and respect him.
Positive parenting starts with knowing how and when to give quality praise. In an era of distractions, this can be more difficult than it sounds! If you truly want to change your child’s behavior and alter your parenting mindset, practice these six simple techniques - and you’ll likely see an improvement in no time!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.