Good job! Is praising your child a good idea?


Of course, it's a good idea !  I can hear my detractors getting ready to slam the very thought .However don't you think the question should be, how to praise rather than should we praise?
We have all grown up on the Good Boys and Good Girls  of our parents and numerous Uncles and Aunts and Good Children of our teachers in school. I think, justifying the  mentioned titles bestowed on us as well meant praise by our elders, is what gradually raised doubts regarding the very concept of praise as a means  of  raising self esteem.When showering praise, we elders need to answer a few questions to ourselves - 
  • Are we using it to get children to comply with us, adult's wishes? If yes, are we not taking advantage of their wish for and dependence on adult approval?
  • Are we  stopping them from being self reliant and  making their own judgments? They remain hungry for praise  and seek approval whole of their lives .
  • Are we teaching them to value only the end product rather than the process of a task? Are we not, taking away their delight in their efforts and accomplishments by providing judgmental praise like Good Job!
  • Are we not stopping the child from venturing into the untried or from taking risks due to the  fear of not getting positive feedback? So, the focus has shifted to motivation for getting more praise rather than to motivation for moving ahead, venturing into further realms.

Coming back to the good in praise, we come to the how of it ? Well, just like human behaviour and reactions cannot be generalized, we cannot lay down set rules as to what will work and what won't push the child in the right direction in case of praise.However, from personal experience,I can, with all my heart say that what works best as always, is HONESTY and a little bit of TACT.

Some guidelines which can be kept in mind while praising children:

  • Give appropriate praise. Instead of simply saying, "You're great," try to be specific about what your child did to deserve the positive feedback. You might say, "Waiting until I was off the phone to ask for chocolates was difficult, and I really liked your patience."
  • Process praise –  An example of process praise is "you tried really hard"     
  • Cheer the good stuff. When you notice your child doing something helpful or nice, let him know how you feel. It's a great way to reinforce good behavior so he's more likely to keep doing it.
  • Gossip about your kids. Make praise more effective by letting your child "catch" you whispering a compliment about him to Grandma or Dad.
  • Avoid praise for low-challenge activities or error-free success – as this tells a child that he is only praiseworthy when he completes tasks quickly, easily and perfectly, and does not help a child embrace challenge.
  • Be careful when praising after failure or mistakes – Praise such as "Well done. You did your best" can convey pity. Telling a child to "Try harder" does not give the child any information about how to improve his or her effort . It may be best to provide process praise and identify what the child did accomplish in this case. For example, "You missed the goal, but it was very, very close!"
All said and done we too, cannot be rote learners of the above .Just honest feedback to your child with some of the above in mind will sure work wonders.
So happy praising till the next post!

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