The importance of praising children. Specific praise, to be specific.
All children love to be praised and, although it might not always feel this way, children do naturally want to be good and please their parents. Their little faces beam when we say ‘Well done, clever boy’ when they do something pleasing. Of course giving verbal praise is hugely important; think how we feel even as adults when someone genuinely praises us for something we’ve done well. Still feels good doesn’t it?
However, there is a form of praise that can really help children with their development, self-esteem, behaviour and language skills. Specific praise means praising the specific behaviour or skill they have just demonstrated. Specific praise tells your child exactly what they have just done well and it helps them to know that they should do it again. This could be a new action they’ve just learnt, “Well done for clapping your hands together, clever boy”, or a skill they’re perfecting, “Well done for taking your own coat off, that was brilliant”.
Specific praise can be targeted towards a challenging area of behaviour you may be encountering with your child. By saying “Good girl for staying with Mummy in the shop today” rather than simply saying “You were a good girl today”, your child will know exactly what she did well and the good behaviour has been reinforced. This can be a very valuable tool during more trying times such as managing temper tantrums or during potty training.
For best impact, make sure you offer the praise straight away. The power of the praise is lessened the longer you leave it, your child will move on to something else and the moment will be gone.