Is there really a “wrong” and “right” way to praise my child? Well, if you are the type of parent who wants to raise children who are willing to take on new challenges, are secure within themselves, and are resilient to setbacks, then the answer is “YES”!!! The right type of praise goes a long way in doing so. It also helps boost your child’s confidence because the right type of praise builds not only their confidence but their character. So, let’s look at the ineffective and effective praise examples, and as you read each one, notice that the ineffective praise is person-centered and the effective praise is process- or growth-centered.
Ineffective: “Wow! You’re really smart at this!”
Effective: “Wow! You must have worked really hard at this!”
Ineffective: “You are such a natural ball player. It’s so easy for you.”
Effective: “You are such a gifted ball player and the hard work that you put into it everyday is paying off. I can definitely see improvement.”
Ineffective: “Good job, honey! You are the next Picasso!”
Effective: “Honey, I love your painting. You used some very interesting colors and techniques. Tell me about your vision behind creating this piece.”
Ineffective: “You’ll get an A on the test because getting A’s comes easy for you.”
Effective: “You’ll do well because you are putting the work in to study and ensure you know the material, and even if you don’t do as well as you would like, you can get feedback to find out where you need to improve. I’m still proud of you for simply working so hard and being dedicated.”
You may notice that effective praise is very specific and addresses the work that the individual put in. Doing this reassures children that being good as something isn’t about natural skills, but more about the effort that goes along with fine tuning their skills. The idea here is that we may not all be at the same skill level but there is room for growth and improvement even if you are naturally talented in something.
As a parent, it’s important for you to look at how you are praising your child. Are you setting them up for strong confidence and strong resilience in the face of setbacks or are you unconsciously setting them up to take a hard fall when faced with life’s challenges? Reflect on this question and then take action.