Here we will continue the discussion that we began in “Effectively Praising Your Child: Part I.”
Avoid Praise Devaluation
Make sure that your praise, while coming often, does not lose its value. Praise loses its value when you praise actions that don’t merit praise.
Example: “Wow Tim, you kicked that rock in the street really well.”
Praise Small Progress
This principle seems to be in contradiction to the above mentioned one, but there is an important difference. Kicking rocks has no value. Finishing a chore ten minutes earlier than the previous day, while still taking 30 minutes too long, is valuable because it is one step closer to reaching the goal of getting the task done on time. Praising small steps leads to more small steps being taken. Slow steady progress is frustrating but is the way improvement occurs.
Drudge Up The Past
Holding on to past insults and injuries can be incredibly harmful to any relationship. However, holding onto and reminding your child of past successes is a very positive tool. Showing your children that you remember what they did confirms how valuable their successes are to you. A good time to bring up past successes is when your child is doing the wrong thing in a similar situation.
Example: “Rachel, I see that you’re not cleaning up your room like I asked you to. Do you remember last Wednesday when I asked you to clean up your room and you did it right away and did a really great job at it, too? That was wonderful.”
Label Your Child
The common wisdom of never labeling a child must be qualified: One should never label a child negatively. However, labeling your child positively can have drastically constructive effects. Our sense of self is heavily influenced by what others think about us. As parents we hold the most power in this respect for a good part of our child’s growth, (pre-pubescent/middle school years will see this power shift to their peer group). If we give our children specific positive labels they will form a self-image that includes those perceptions about themselves.
Example: “You did that chore without being reminded. You are responsible.”
Administering effective praise will help you develop a more meaningful relationship with your child. The more you focus on the positive, the more you will see your child in a positive light, and most importantly, the more they will see themselves in a positive light.
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By Jeffrey Kranzler, LCSW specializing in teaching parenting skills and treating children and adolescents with ADHD, Anxiety, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Depression.