As parents we all want to raise happy, confident children. Receiving praise is an important part of boosting their self esteem, and giving it in the right way is important.
Look beyond achievements and focus elsewhere
Firstly, it’s important to look beyond winning or getting top marks. For example, if your child didn’t win anything at sports day, instead talk about what else they did right. Perhaps they cheered on their classmates, which makes them a kind, supportive friend.
Praising them for their traits and day to day actions is more important than focusing on achieving as it teaches them that you value the person they are.
Appreciate their effort
Praise the effort rather than perfection. When asked to tidy their room, a child may not complete the task to our standards but saying ‘that was good, but…’ makes them feel that they didn’t do well enough. Instead, compliment them on how well they tidied their toys up, or straightened out their bed.
Make it fun
Celebrate their good work by giving them a high five, a giant cuddle or the reward of a trip to the park/ something else that they would enjoy.
Encourage positive feelings
Enthusiastic talk comes in lots of shapes and forms, and you don’t always have to give direct praise. You can instead ask questions which lead to your child shifting their focus from praise to inner awareness.
For example, you could ask ‘you looked like you were having fun learning to swim today. What part did you enjoy most?’. Open questions like this encourage them to consider their own feelings on the matter in a positive way.
Other examples might be: ‘That must have taken a lot of effort to finish. Are you proud?’ or ‘You look very excited about coming again next week! What did you learn?’.
Through these kinds of conversations, kids learn to appreciate their own strengths, which contributes to their resilience and confidence. It also encourages them to rely on their own opinion of things, instead of seeking external validation.
Applaud individual strengths
If your child feels sad that they can’t compete with one of their friends on a certain area, point out what they can do instead. For example, if they never score in football practice, praise their brilliant marking skills or ability when tackling.
It can get frustrating for kids when they try and don’t succeed, but receiving encouragement from you will keep them going. Be sure to point out the things they are doing successfully while trying- e.g: ‘well done for peddling so hard, you’re getting really good at that!’ and reminding them that practice will get them there in the end: ‘just try to peddle again with the handlebars straight and you’ll have learnt to cycle!’.