How to Praise Your Child Effectively and Encourage Good Behavior

Your child has doubts and niggles about their ability to do things, just like you do. They may hide their worries, or they may counteract them with undesirable behavior. However your child chooses to react, it is important to challenge these feelings and behaviors with positive encouragement and praise for their kind and considerate actions. You may think that you effectively praise your child when they behave in a positive way, but think again. Many parents do not praise their child enough and in a way that their child will respond to most appropriately. Here are some tips to help you improve your technique. You’ll start seeing the difference in your child almost straight away!

Seize every opportunity
When your child draws a picture and brings it to you, or they tidy their toys away without asking, or even if they do an action when you have only asked once, praise your child. This cannot be stressed enough. Children do so many positive actions that go unnoticed or unacknowledged by parents. It’s time to open your eyes and let your child know how happy you are with them for their co-operative behavior. For example, if your child hangs their coat on the coat rack without asking, say something like, ‘Thank you for putting your coat on the coat rack. By doing that, you’re making sure that our home is tidy and that’s very grown up of you.’ Your child will leave that situation with a sense of responsibility and love and will be more likely to carry on putting things away without you having to ask them.

Be specific
When your praise is vague, it can be very puzzling for your child and will not have the intended effect. Children may or may not pick up on your subtlety, so it is always recommended that you be as specific as you can. If your child has presented you with a picture that they have drawn, turn your attention to them, use their name and spell out exactly what it is you are happy with, such as, ‘That’s a wonderful drawing of your sister, Lizzy. You’re a very clever girl’ rather than simply ‘You’re a very clever girl.’ The latter statement could be confusing. The child could think ‘Why does mommy think that I’m clever? Does she like my picture?’ Being specific can feel awkward at first because when we talk to other adults, we do not have to list every single thing that we are complementing. However, in time this will become second nature and you will get a great buzz from seeing a wide smile spread across your child’s face every time you praise them.

Always keep it positive
Even if your child has the best intentions in the world, the outcomes of their actions are not always the ones you desire. Your child could decide to help mommy by finishing painting the walls in the room you are decorating, or smash your best china whilst trying to put it back into the kitchen cupboards. Times like these are testing, but you should still praise your child. Keep it positive and then at another time of the day, give your child tips on how to complete positive actions in a safer way next time. By leaving a little time between the praise and the advice, your child will know that their intentions are actively welcomed whilst taking advice on-board.

Don’t bring up the past
When praising your child, do not bring up their previous undesirable behavior. If your child has acted in a positive way, praise your child for that act, and that act only. Do not be tempted to tack on phrases such as, ‘Why didn’t you behave like that last night?’ or ‘Why don’t you do this all of the time if it makes mommy happy?’ Sentences such as these negate your previous words and your child will remember the negative statement and not the positive one.

Words of praise are powerful and can be used to bring out the best in your child. Children love nothing more than the approval of their parents, so let them know just how grateful and pleased you are when they behave in a desirable way.

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