Thursday, October 14, 2010

Praise vs. Encouragement

When praise is given repeatedly, a child may learn to expect and rely on it. It also causes misinterpretation of your intent. Your child may begin to assume that your praise means approval, and likewise, the absence of praise means disapproval. It can lead to discouragement and fear to fail, whereas using encouragement can lead to acceptance of natural imperfections. To replace praise with encouragement, use phrases that put the emphasis on the child’s feelings and get rid of phrases that would indicate a personal opinion. Using a phrase such as, “You should be proud of yourself,” instead of “I am proud ofyou,” shows lack of judgment, yet is still found supportive and encouraging.

It is natural for a child to experience the “I can do it” feeling and is something that should be encouraged. A parent’s natural tendency when a child does something pleasing is to say, “Good job,” however this actually shows judgment. It ultimately limits the child’s ability to be proud of his or her own work. It shows an assessment of what the child does and an opinion that you were pleased. The more praise occurs, the more the child will look for ways to please you.
They will then come to you for approval, and will fail to be satisfied with what they do for his or her own sake. Replacing praise words with encouraging phrases such as “You did it,” will promote a healthy sense of accomplishment.

Over-praising can lead to neglect in personal gain. Eventually, a child will not appreciate a task as much and leave an activity they could otherwise have benefited from. Their filter can quickly become doing it for someone else’s satisfaction rather than their own. Knowing this, we see that the greatest benefit comes from personal satisfaction and not the satisfaction of others. When assisting in tasks, try making observations such as,
“You made a tall tree,” instead of saying “I like your picture.” A child will still feel loved and supported through their own learning without feeling the need to hear a good opinion.

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