Humans don’t thrive on praise, but a little praise is like an jubilant boost to the brain and a person’s confidence.
There are debates on whether praise is beneficial or detrimental to children. However, the important thing to note is not whether “Should” we praise but “How” and ‘When” we praise children.
For example, person praise evaluates a child’s traits, such as his intelligence. An example is “You are so good at this!”. Instead of encouraging motivation, this focuses more on performance.
Process praise on the other hand relates to the effort. For example: “You tried really hard”. This encourages children to overcome their weakness and to challenge themselves.
It is undeniable that parents have used praise one way or another during their children development. At times, it serves as an encouragement and recognition of effort, while there are times… well we simply want the child to follow through with the instructions.
In a certain way, praise does condition the brain and the way an individual performs.
Not all praises are bad, and some serve as a boost for one’s self-esteem. Giving praises should not be used excessive, just like meting out punishment, as there are both positive and negative effects.
Over praising a child, such as for even the slightest effort or error-free tasks, can make them reliant on praises with the sole aim of pleasing of adults. As a result, these children may lose their own motivation and sense of achievement.
You’ve put in good effort! Let’s give it another go!
Good Job. Try harder next time!
The first message conveys that the child’s effort has been recognised and to persevere on.
The second message conveys that while the effort has been recognised, but it is not good enough.
Simply put, your choice of words will determine the message that is conveyed.
Tone & Intent
Likewise tone and choice of words would naturally affect the flow of the message. The important thing note is the intent behind the message.
Here are a few tips on ‘How’ to praise (Hammond, Lowry & Others, Dewar)
- Being Sincere
- Show Appreciation
- Being Sensitive
- Being specific, and conveying realistic attainable standards
- Praise kids only for traits they have the power to change
- Encourage focus on mastering skills not in comparison to others