Praising praise – “Everything you say and do and don’t say and don’t do is a lesson” and that includes praise. The goal is to get to think about what a child might be really hearing behind the words of praise that you give them.
“Billy, you did very well. You are such a good boy.” That sounds nice, doesn’t it? But what messages might you be sending that you really do not want to be saying if Billy didn’t do a good job, does that make him a bad boy?
“Betsy, that is lovely. I am so proud of you.” It feels good to have someone proud of you, “yes!” But – do I need to base my sense of accomplishment on your pride? Should I only be proud of myself if YOU are proud of me? How should I feel if you don’t say you are proud? And what if you aren’t around to see what I do?
“Johnny, nice try, but here let me do it for you.” Have we complimented the child on the effort given? Does he feel like a success? Will he want to try next time?
*Every interaction we have with children is teaching them about themselves. Praise can do wonders for a child’s self-esteem as well as their understanding of what are appropriate behaviors. However, do we actually send mixed messages? Are our compliments actually undermining what we want to achieve?
Showing an interest in a child’s activities is indeed giving praise. It is very rewarding to have someone comment or ask questions about what you are doing but above all remember that it is the inner-reward, the self-appraisal, that is most important.
Ways to praise:
• A pat on the back, hand, on the shoulder
• A smile and friendly eye contact
• “I can see that you have really worked hard on this.”
• “I’d love to hear about what you have been doing.”
• “This looks really interesting to me.”
• “That is very creative! How did you decide to do that?”
• “I’d like to try that too.”
• “You did a great job.”
• “That’s different than your last one. How did you change it?”
• “You must feel very proud.”
I ASK YOU TO THINK OF OTHER WAYS TO PRAISE AS AN EXERCISE!
The more you praise the child, the more you build self-esteem.
NEXT WEEK, WE WILL LOOK AT TYPES OF PRAISE STATEMENTS