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There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child can do instead of what they cannot do
Dr Temple Grandin

I was recently reading an article from Parenting for Brain and through I would share. The article was titled ‘six proven ways to encourage kids effectively without negative side effect’. Within the article reviewed how words of encouragement, when used right, could have powerful positive effects on kids. Below I have summarised the six tips of using words of encouragement.

View the full article here: https://www.parentingforbrain.com/words-of-encouragement-for-kids/

1. Praise sincerely and honestly

We sometimes praise our children purposely to boost their self-esteem, motivate them, encourage certain behavior, or protect from them from hurtful feelings. However, if praises are not perceived as sincere and honest, children won’t feel very encouraged.



Don’t Do
You’re a genius for solving that problem! (“Genius? I only got one out of three questions!”) You came up with a very good answer for the last question.
What an angel you are! (“I’m an angel for sharing a cookie? What about not doing homework last night?”) It’s generous of you to share your cookie.
You did very well. I’m sure you will do well again next time. I like the solution you came up with.
2. Be specific and descriptive

Instead of sweeping praises, encourage children using descriptive and specific comments. The less general or generic the praise, the more likely it is factually correct and perceived as sincere.



Don’t Do
That’s awesome! I like the way you are using different colors on these balls.
Good job! You came up with a thoughtful answer and really nailed that question!
3. Praise their effort and the process, not ability

One of the reasons why human is the smartest animal on Earth is because we want to learn and understand cause and effect of matters. Attribution Theory says that the causes people attribute to events affect how they think of and respond to future events. When children are praised for their effort expended in doing it, they learn to attribute the success to their effort. Effort is a quality that we have the power to control or improve through hard work and practice. These children will therefore focus more on developing skills than on pursuing results.



Don’t Do
What a smart boy! I can see that you worked very hard on this.
Your ability in puzzle solving is excellent. Your strategy in solving this puzzle was excellent!
You are such a great puzzle-solver! You are good at trying different ways to solve a hard puzzle.
4. Avoid controlling or conditional praise

Controlling praise is different from positive informational feedback used to affirm a child’s progress, improvement, or task mastery. It is given with the intent to manipulate or control.



Don’t Do
I’m sure you will want to do better next time. You’ve worked hard on this and you’re doing great.
You did very well on that one, just as expected. You did very well on that one.
Good job! I bet you can do better next time. I like how you’ve drawn this picture using bright colors.
If you keep it up, I believe you will do very well. You did really well in collecting the data.
5. Avoid comparison praise

It’s easy to fall into the habit of praising by comparison. After all, that’s how most of us were raised — we were compared in school, in sports, in extracurricular activities, in exams, at work, etc. Think about how it feels when you compare yourself with a more successful peer. When we perform well, we are excited and motivated. But when we fail, it probably depresses rather than motivates us. Similarly, comparison praising leaves children vulnerable to future setbacks. Kids who are praised by comparison don’t stop comparing when they fail. Instead, they lose motivation faster.



Don’t Do
You are so good, just like your sister. You are good at playing this game.
You are even smarter than Jane! You solved the problem with such great focus!
6. Avoid easy-task praise or over-praise

There are multiple negative impacts when adults praise easy tasks or overpraise. Handing out encouraging words for tasks that are easy to complete can be perceived as insincere. Praising easy tasks implies that there has been a lower expectation of the child’s competence originally. Children who are subjected to frequent praises learn to select only those things they think will please their parents and avoid doing those things that may not. They follow a pattern known to bring praise rather than to experiment with something new. When words of encouragement are given unexpectedly, it can be very motivating. Overpraising, however, condition children to expect praises every time. It becomes an extrinsic reward that reduces, not increases, motivation. Frequent praising also leads children to believe absence of praise signifies failure. Praise is a double-edged sword. But if parents use it properly, it can be a very powerful motivating force and learning tool.

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