The right way to praise children


Everyone loves to be praised, even children. Just turn around and give the next person you see some praise – could be just for a good colour combination of his/ her outfit, and you see just how they break into a smile. Sometimes they say, “Oh really…?” You know that pretense to appear modest? I have often watched parents praise their children for practically everything they do, or don’t do (in some cases), particularly grandparents.

A child does something he doesn’t even consider worthy of any special attention and there goes an outpouring of praise like he just won an Olympic gold medal. A close observation will reveal that even the child is surprised, but well, he goes ahead and soaks up all the praise, after all who wouldn’t love that. But is that right? Should we so lavishly shower praise our children like it is something they need in order to live?

At what point should we instead offer constructive feedback when we know they have not measured up and need to put in more effort? Flashing a smile and giving a pat on the back almost all the time (even when we don’t mean it), makes it that any other person who tries to correct that child is perceived (especially by the child) as being hateful. I faced this challenge when my children were much younger and spent a lot of time with their grandma.

Instilling discipline and putting firm boundaries were often misinterpreted as lack of, or not enough love. This piece tilted How to Praise Children I have adapted from I found in it very useful ideas on how we can praise our children the right way: “Some people say that it is impossible to give your child too much praise. Others claim that constant praise will spoil your child and make him feel entitled, as if the world owed him something. Besides how much you praise your child, you also have to consider the kind of praise you offer.

Which type will encourage your child? Which type might hinder him? How can you offer praise that will have the best outcome? Not all praise is equal. Consider the following. Too much praise can be harmful. Some parents dole out undeserved praise in an attempt to boost their children’s self-esteem. But young ones “are smart enough to see through the exaggeration and conclude that you do not really mean what you say,” warns Dr.

David Walsh. “They know that they did not deserve [the praise] and may conclude that they cannot trust you.” Praise based on ability is better. Suppose your daughter has knack for drawing. Naturally, you want to praise her for this, which will motivate her to hone her skill even more.

But there can be a drawback. Praise focused on talent alone could cause your child to think that the only skills worth pursuing are those that come easily. She may even shy away from new challenges, fearing that she will fail. ‘If something takes effort,’ she reasons, ‘I must not be cut out for it—so why try?’ Effort-based praise is best.

Children who are praised for their hard work and perseverance rather than simply for their talents come to realize a vital truth—that acquiring skill requires patience and effort. Knowing that, “they put in the work needed to achieve the desired result,” says the book Letting Go With Love and Confidence. “Even when they come up short, they don’t view themselves as failures, but as learners.” What you can do Praise effort, not just talent.

Telling your child, “I can see that you put a lot of thought into your drawing,” may do more good than saying, “You’re a natural artist.” Both statements offer praise, but the second one could unwittingly imply that inborn skills are the only ones your child will be good at. When you praise effort, you teach your child that ability can improve with practice. Your child might then take on new challenges more confidently.

Help your child deal with failure. Even good people make mistakes, perhaps repeatedly. But after each misstep, they get up, learn from the experience, and move on. How can you help your child to cultivate that positive approach?

Again, focus on effort. Consider an example: Suppose you often tell your daughter, “You’re a natural at math,” but then she fails a math test. She might conclude that she has lost her knack, so why try to improve? When you focus on effort, however, you foster resilience. You help your daughter to view a setback as just that, and not as a disaster. So rather than give up, she may try another approach or simply work harder.

Give constructive criticism. When given in the right manner, negative feedback will help a child, not crush his spirit. Also, if you regularly give appropriate praise, likely your child will welcome feedback on how he can further improve. Then his achievements will become a source of satisfaction both to him and to you.” Please share your thoughts with me. Thank you! Follow me on twitter @GraceEssen,also follow my blog www.mum2mumafrica. com

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