Child Praising: Praise With Impact
By Michael Grose
Praising and encouraging kids can be difficult for many people. It
just doesn't come naturally. They are hard-wired for criticism
rather than praise.
Some children, particularly boys, feel awkward receiving praise
unless it is done carefully. It can be misconstrued as being
manipulative and not genuine, particularly when it is simply a
throw-away line. Praise can become meaningless for some kids unless
it is done with a little thought and care.
There are three types of praise that have positive impact on
children's (as well as adults') behavior and self-esteem.
1. Descriptive praise
Throw a spotlight on the behaviors that
kids do well. Rather than a trite 'well done' draw a word picture of
what they did well and let them know its impact. Tell them what you
see and how you feel. "Wow. You have tidied the room really well and
put everything back where it should be. It's a pleasure to come into
the living room." Such comments genuinely made become stored in
their bank of skills and builds up their confidence.
Private praise is more effective than public praise for boys as
they can become embarrassed being praised in front of their friends
Use for: keeping house rules, changing poor behavior (when
combined with ignoring some of their poor behavior)
2. Summary praise
Give your child a positive label to live up to
by summing up their positive behaviors with one word. "You really
worked hard to finish your project. That's what I call persistence."
"You cleaned up the kitchen without being told. You are a
self-starter." Persistence and self-starter become part of your
children's ICRS (Internal Character Reference System).
Use for: kids who lack confidence, kids of
all ages but particularly those under 10 as they really use parents
as reference points
Praise is always bit more powerful when it comes
from yourself so allow children to brag a little. "I did that well.",
"I am really pleased with the way I did that.", "I did the best I
could.", "I love the art I did at school today." Teaching kids to
self-praise can be a little tricky but you can start by asking them
how they feel about their efforts. When you use descriptive feedback
you actually show kids how to self-praise.
Some kids need to be cued regarding self-praise -"Are you pleased
with yourself because you tried your best in the game?" Encourage
them to say they are pleased with themselves rather than just agree
with you. This gets them in the habit of self-praise.
Use for: kids who always want your reassurance, use for
children's efforts rather than behavior
There are plenty of people in your child's life who are critical
of them – including their peers and maybe siblings. It is a parent's
job to tell kids what is right about them, so spend a little time
telling kids what you see and feel when they do something well. Make
up positive labels that they can add to their Internal Character
Reference Systems and encourage them to brag a little when they have
done something well.
Michael Grose is a popular parenting educator and parent coach. He
is the director of Parentingideas, the author of seven books for
parents and a popular presenter who speaks to audiences in
Australia, Singapore and the USA. For free courses and resources to
help you raise happy kids and resilient teenagers visit