‘Be an Encourager. The World has plenty of Critics already’
No matter how old your children are, your praise and encouragement will help them feel good about themselves. This boosts their self-esteem and confidence. Sometimes rewards can be useful too, especially if you want to encourage good behaviour.
Praise is when you tell your child what you like about her or her behaviour. It goes a long way towards helping your child feel good about herself. Descriptive praise is when you tell your child exactly what it is that you like. For example, ‘I love the way you shared your Lego with your brother just now’. Descriptive praise is best for boosting self-esteem and building good behaviour – when children get praise for behaving well, they’re likely to want to keep behaving well.
Encouragement is praise for effort – for example, ‘You worked hard on that maths homework’. Praising effort can encourage your child to try hard in the future. But you can also use encouragement before and during an activity, for example, ‘Show me how well you can put your toys away’. Some children, especially those who are less confident, need more encouragement than others. Encouragement is particularly important for older children.
Rewards are a consequence of good behaviour. It’s a way of saying ‘well done’ after your child has done something good or behaved well. It could be a treat, a surprise or an extra privilege. Rewards can make your praise and encouragement more effective in encouraging good behaviour. Most behaviour is influenced by the consequences that follow it, so when you reward your child’s behaviour, the behaviour is more likely to happen again in the future.
Sometimes it’s easier to criticise than it is to compliment. Bad behaviour is more obvious than good behaviour – you’re much more likely to notice when your child is yelling than you are to notice when your child is quietly reading a book. Try to pay attention to the good behaviour, too!