Using praise

Praise and encouragement is often used by adults when they want to motivate children to do things, learn new skills or develop more confidence. Are there right and wrong ways to praise children? Is praising children always a useful thing to do?

Babies do things for the sheer enjoyment of exploring and learning through their senses. As children get older they learn that what they do gets a reaction from adults. Adults in turn want to motivate children to do certain things and so often use praise, rewards and encouragement. Some children are more dependent on praise from adults, while others are more independent and self-directed.

We want to use praise in a way that helps children learn the value of effort and completion of tasks rather than seeking to please adults. This helps them learn to be self-motivated. Praise is most effective when adults are careful to praise specifically and to focus effort and achievement rather than on giving approval. When children seek approval they may give up more easily when things get difficult.

Effective praise is:

  • Specific “Well done for putting all your toys away”.

  • Focused on effort “You worked very hard to finish that puzzle”.

  • Acknowledging of your child’s feelings “You’re excited about being in the concert”.

  • Focused on progress “You wrote five more lines than last time”

Ineffective praise is:

  • General “Good boy”

  • Focused on outcome rather than effort “You finished first”

  • Evaluating children “You’re a good singer”.

  • Comparing children “Look at how your brother did it”

Using praise effectively can help children learn to focus on effort and working to complete tasks and to keep on trying when things are difficult.

Want to find out more about supporting kids mental health? Check out all the great info at Kids Matter.

Did you know Talking Matters now has psychology? Find out more on our website.

Talking Matters provides speech pathology, occupational therapy and psychology services to kids of all ages in Adelaide, South Australia. To find out more about our team and what we do browse our website and see how we can help your family.

There is also more information on our Facebook page, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Related Blog Posts

If you liked this post you may also like:

Communicating choices
Individualised programs
50 pre-writing tips
Value of pretending


  • Blog Categories: