I think that it’s fair to say that as parents we all praise our kids. It’s an essential part of parenting and of raising healthy, emotionally balanced kids. However, misusing praise can have a tremendous effect, too. Under-praising, overpraising or even more frequently, ‘mis-praising’ our kids and their behaviour can set up for difficulties down the line. It’s a tricky ocean to navigate, and sometimes I feel like “I’m damned if I do, or damned if I don’t” when praising my own kids. But, how we praise actually does matter to our kids and their development of intrinsic motivation and how they view themselves.
As part of our homeschooling program on Fridays (our kids attend their school four days a week), my wife, Cate, began writing activities with them using The Big Life Journal for Kids program. I have posted about the program’s power to develop resilience within kids in a previous post. Part of the program also offers parents a weekly email with access to free downloadable resources! Did I mention that these resources are free?
The week’s Big Life Journal resource offers the Ultimate Guide to Praising Kids. It seems simple enough but the little things like avoiding “I like how” statements, focusing on mastery, being specific with praise, and avoiding overpraise really do make a difference.
If nothing else possessing a greater awareness about how, when, and why I praise our kids (as a parent and teacher) is an important exercise that I am becoming more and more comfortable discovering.