If you counted how many times a day you tell your child not to do something, then counted how many times you tell them you like what they are doing; which number do you think would be higher?? Yup, most likely the what not to do number, right? Several research studies have been done finding that children who are praised for their behaviors are more likely to continue repeating the good behaviors. I wanted to blog about the different types of praise and how to give it appropriately.

Praise The expression of approval or admiration for something or someone.

Praise for doing– Praising someone for what they did (a behavior).

  • “Good job,” “I like how you did that,” “thank you,” “awesome job,” “wow that is cool,” “you are so good at that.”

Praise for being- Praising someone for who they are

  • “I love you,” “you are special,” “I’m glad you are my daughter,” “you are such a cool kid.”

Children like to be praised, just like adults. When we are told we did well on something, we feel good, and we want to do even better next time. Unfortunately as humans, we tend to pay more attention to the behaviors we want corrected than the ones we want continued.

  • An example of paying more attention to negative behavior.
    • mom is cleaning the house and the two kids have been asked to watch cartoons while mom cleans. For 45 minutes the children sit quietly and watch TV, then all of a sudden mom hears fighting and screaming. Mom runs into the living room and gets onto the children for whatever has provoked the fighting. So, in this situation mom has now discounted the 45 minutes of good behavior and is paying attention to the negative behavior. With that said, yes, if your children start fighting then you should address the situation. But, maybe just maybe, if mom had went in the room around 20 minutes into her cleaning and praised the kids for sitting so quietly and letting mommy get some work done, they would have tried hard to continue and receive that praise again.

Another common mistake that is made when giving praise, and I see this one a lot in my work is the “Thanks for mowing the lawn, even though I had to ask you for 3 days in a row to do it.” You just told them good job and bad job in the same sentence; guess which one they will remember? Not the praise…….. if your going to tell them good job for something, stay in the present, only give the praise.

There are often arguments with parents saying, “I shouldn’t have to always tell my child good job for them to do good, they should know what is expected and act right anyway.” And those parents are right to a certain extent. I do a lot of praise work and exercises during my sessions, and I have never had a child stop doing good things just because mom did not say good job. Just like with adults at work; if your boss does not say good job, that doesn’t mean you will go do a poor job on your next assignment.

Bottom line, if you want good behavior to continue or increase you need to praise them. Praise for being and praise for doing everyday!


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