Actions speak louder than words. But according to child psychologists, children—especially the younger ones—need great doses of verbal praise to be reminded that they are appreciated and loved.
Praising our children shows that we are pleased with their efforts, not just their accomplishments. As we affirm them for their good work, we let them feel a sense of pride, joy, and confidence. Sincere praise from parents reinforces good behavior because they encourage children to keep doing their best.
In Kumon, we recognize the power of praise, and as with any form of power, we would like to harness this one with care.
There is an art to giving praise. Although praises empower children, insincere compliments do the opposite. We don’t want to mislead children with empty and vague compliments. Here, then, are some tips on how we can go beyond ‘Very Good!’ and ‘Excellent!’
- Be specific with your praise. ‘Good boy!’ or ‘That’s nice!’ are non-descriptive praise and are therefore ineffective. Such words do not describe the child’s behavior or the action done. Why are we commending him? Are we happy because he didn’t leave his toys after playing or because he shared his toys with his siblings? Give specific praise such as, “That was very thoughtful of you to share your sandwich with your sister.”
- Give appropriate praise. It is important to praise him for his behavior as it occurs and when the behavior is appropriate. An excellent artwork on his uniform, for example, should not be commended no matter how well he drew it because doing so encourages the child’s inappropriate behavior
- Be enthusiastic. If we look stern or bored when offering praise, the child may not be happy and convinced about it. The secret to effective praising is doing it with eye contact, a sincere smile, and genuine, specific remarks.
- Avoid the ‘sting in the tail.’ This refers to praise that ends with criticism which wipes up the initial positive comments. Try not to say, “Good job for cleaning your play area – sadly you don’t do it every day.” Don’t give positive and negative remarks simultaneously.
The next time we see our child doing something remarkably good, go ahead and shower him with the right praise. Such appreciation will develop his confidence – confidence that will surely make him shine.