Parenting Guide

Parenting Guide

Key Research Findings to Keep in Mind

When your child is praised for her efforts, she will keep trying new things and working hard to achieve her goals.

• Praise your child in a realistic and loving manner.

• Praise is most effective when it is very specific and focused on effort, perseverance, and practice.

• Focusing on effort and improvement allows your child to develop at her own pace, feeling more in control of her success and more confident when challenged.

• Remind your child of the times when she initially struggled and then succeeded.

Praise that is excessive, unrealistic, or focused on natural ability and achievements can cause your child to feel less confident about tackling challenges and coping with failure.

• Praising traits that come naturally can take away your child’s feeling of control over how to deal with risk. She may come to think that she is only good at things over which she has no control, such as her natural abilities. This leaves her without the skills for dealing with failure.

• Routine, automatic phrases like “good job” can make your child feel pressured to “keep up the good work” and confused about her own strengths and weaknesses. She may not understand what was “good” about the job she did.

• Avoid praise that compares your child to others. Keep her focused on her own efforts and motivation.

Specific praise works best.

• Describe what you see without adding a judgment of how good it is: “You worked hard and built a really high sand castle!” rather than “You built an awesome sand castle.”

• Acknowledge your child’s positive interactions with other children: “You touched the baby’s face very gently.”

• Make simple, positive observations: “You put your shoes on by yourself!”

• Simply smile as you focus your attention on what your child is doing (dancing, climbing, etc.).

Praise can encourage specific behaviors by letting your child know how her behavior affects others.

• If you want to encourage your child to share, you could tell your child, “Thank you for letting Tom play with your ball. You made Tom happy by sharing with him,” rather than “good sharing” or “good job.”

• Thanking your child is a form of praise. If your child is looking for recognition, you might say, “Thank you for putting your toys away. I was really tired tonight.”

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