What is a good way to praise your child?
Welcome to the Intentional Family Moment. Take a moment with us as we discuss our thoughts on your family related questions, then join us in our weekly challenges. We work together to become More intentional in our families. This is Episode fifteen hosted by married Coriaria, founders Brent and Michelle. This episode is brought to you by My Mindful Mat – a parent’s mindful alternative to time out. Learn more at MyMindfulMat.com
Today’s question is: What is a good way to praise your child?
I think the short and simple answer is intentionally, sincerely, and honestly What else do you think is important to take into consideration?
I think that honesty and authenticity are obviously important. If you’re praising your child and you don’t actually mean it for some reason, then you need to check yourself and figure out where you’re at on extending that praise. One of the important things that comes to mind as well is that praise is very important in helping to establish norms with a child for them to understand what is right and what is wrong and where boundaries might lie. And so I think that establishing praise could be very important to establishing some of those baselines for a child. At the same time, it’s also important for anyone to develop a sense of doing things because of the rightness of the thing that they’re doing, whether that’s out of duty or out of social expectations. And if someone is expecting to have praise for everything that they do all the time, then it’s also going to make them weak in certain areas. And I think that it’s going to depend a lot on the circumstances in the situation. As far as good ways to praise a child, there’s a lot of different ways that one can express praise.
I think something along the lines of what you’re talking about that comes up often is the growth mindset version of praising a child, which is along the lines of, instead of saying “Yay, good job” or “Yay, you’re smart,” you’re more specific. You talk about, “Wow, you worked to really hard for all these weeks on that project and your hard work is paying off because you’ve been able to implement that.” Whatever specifics come with it and to also reinforce the continuation of that good habit more than who I am, it’s more what I can do with with the talents that I have
One way to distill that as a single principle, because you’re absolutely right, is that when praising and interacting with a child, we can always ask ourselves, are we cultivating intentionality with them, are we helping our child to develop intentionality or not? Are we helping them to cultivate their ability to exercise choice, or not? And everything that we do for ourselves or with other people is cultivating that aspect of whether or not they are developing their ability to make choices or not, or two to be acted upon by some outside force or perspective. I think that therefore, when giving praise like you’re saying, if a child has been doing something and you know there’s an accomplishment, some achievement that they’ve reached, it’s important to emphasize the work and the things that they did that were in their control in order to reach that achievement.
If, for instance, you have a child who’s naturally gifted in some way, that it doesn’t seem like they really have to do a whole lot in order to accomplish something, trying to draw in on the specific things that they do to magnify what they’re using to sharpen that talent is going to be important because otherwise a child might actually end up developing almost a sense of paralysis towards that gift. If they don’t really know what it is that they do to make that gift effective, then they are going to potentially get nervous when it comes time to perform with that gift, and they might even withdraw from applying it.
And whereas, I think that you know, on the flip side, if you have a child who’s really engaged in trying to do something, even if they’re not good at it, they’re working really hard at it. They will eventually get good at it, and that practice is something to encourage and to praise and by praising the things that are within a child’s control, the practice and the intention that they have towards those things and not just things that might just be natural aspects of things that they didn’t necessarily choose to cultivate, then it’s going to encourage them to work hard on things in the future.
And maybe to go back to the question, a little more specifically as far as, What ways are good to praise a child, I think it’s also important to know your child because they may not hear your praise if you’re not giving it to them in the Five love languages kind of way, where you understand that maybe the words you use, they don’t don’t come across. So to couple about with with other versions of the five Love Languages, part is doing service for them, writing them a note, maybe more specifically, if that comes across more sincerely in those types of things, if you’re really trying to get across some sincere praise in ways that are meaningful to them.
I think we can drop a link in the show notes to the Five love languages, if you’re not familiar with those. The five love languages were originally developed to talk about relationships of love between partners, between couples, or within a marriage. Those same things, however, would apply to parenting and to how anyone communicates both in receiving and in expressing love and appreciation.
So what do you think a good goal or challenge for this week would be?
I think that a good challenge this week would be to share the things that we’ve talked about with a spouse or partner or someone that you could be accountable to, and then try to implement this in how you praise others, especially your child. I think that focusing on praise that is coupled to things that were an actual choice and actual effort that was made, how hard a child worked on a project or a homework assignment or practicing for a performance, whether that’s on a sports team or something else, that if you share that with someone else and have them hold you accountable to that, if they observe your behavior that they might be able to help coach you in developing that and pointing that out, so that you’re more aware of it. Or even just trying to catch that within yourself, as well. But if there’s someone that can help you with that, that would also be helpful so that you’re able to both develop and develop that talent.
Thank you for joining us. Now go home and change the world by being more intentional with your family.