Praise encourages a child to repeat good behavior. However, there may be times when you feel you’re your praise is not resonating with your child. What is the right and wrong way to praise a child? What adjustments can you make to your praising style? We’ll cover all that and more in this quick guide.
Praise Specific Behavior
Rather than saying “Good job,” pinpoint what your child has done well. “Thank you for picking up your toys without being asked!” This tells the child exactly what he or she did that was worthy of praise. Your child will be more likely to repeat a good behavior when there is specific praise associated with it.
Moreover, it’s important to identify the behavior, rather than the person. “Good boy!” doesn’t highlight a behavior at all. “You’re a good buy for putting your toys away neatly” would be a better phrasing.
Find a Positive Alternative to Bad Behaviors
Focus on the positives as much as possible. If your child does something you do not like, think of the positive alternative to that. You can discuss the negative behavior, but point in the direction of the alternative. “Thank you for brushing your teeth! Please put your toothbrush up so we can keep the counters clean.” This gives praise for a correct behavior while still speaking against an incorrect behavior (not putting the toothbrush up). When you speak in a positive and encouraging manner, your children are more likely to respond in a positive way.
Compliment without Criticizing
You may be familiar with ‘backwards compliments.’ These are compliments with a criticizing undertone. Avoid using backwards compliments with your children, regardless of how frustrated you may be. “Thanks for doing the dishes, after the seventh time I asked you to do them.” This negates your gratitude and the rewarding feeling of praise. Instead, say, “Thank you for doing the dishes. That’s a big help to me.” Changing the phrasing will change your child’s interpretation.
A quick way to adjust backwards compliments is to avoid ‘but’ in the middle of praise. Replace ‘but’ with ‘and’ so the compliment still holds its structure. Example: “Good work cleaning your room, but you left a mess under the bed” can turn into “I appreciate you cleaning your room, and I need you to finish by cleaning under the bed.”
Learn How to Praise Your Child Specifically
In family counseling, you can learn communication strategies and parenting techniques that work for your child’s unique personality. Sherman Counseling offers affordable family counseling services in Wisconsin. Contact us at 920-733-2065 to find a family counselor near you.