But too much praise, or the wrong kinds of praise, may actually harm children’s self-respect.
Here are some tips to use with young children:
- Praise children’s efforts when their overall achievements don’t measure up. If your child is learning to play catch but keeps missing the ball, you might say, “You’re really working hard to learn this skill. You must be proud of yourself!” That’s better than saying, “You’re a great catcher!”
- Match praise to your child’s actions. It’s more honest to say, “Great job! You put all your toys in the closet,” than “You’re the best cleaner in the world!”
- Use constructive criticism. You might begin by praising your child’s efforts (“You tried hard to button your coat”) and then offer constructive suggestions (“Try to work more slowly, and it might be easier”). Praise is important, but it’s also good for children to learn how helpful criticism can be.
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