Power of Praise

by | Nov 4, 2019

I am sure that most of us know the power of praise. Especially us parents. We know that praise can help build self-confidence, encourage positive behaviors, and create connection. But did you know that not all praise is created equal? Yep, that’s right. The fact is, how we praise others is just as important as the praise itself.  

The reason for this is that they type of praise we give others, like our children, has an impact on how they view themselves and the type of mindset they develop. Mindset refers to the beliefs we have about our own abilities and potential. And, our mindset directly impacts how we interpret our experiences and shapes our behaviors.

As parents, the goal is to help our children develop what is termed, a growth mindset. A growth mindset occurs when a person believes intelligence and ability can be improved upon with effort and is characterized by a willingness to confront challenges, learn new things, and a view  that failure is an opportunity for growth. Alternatively, a fixed mindset occurs when a person believes that intelligence and ability cannot be altered. This mindset is characterized by a view that mistakes are failures and an avoidance of risks and opportunities.

So, back to praise. How we praise our children can help them to focus on effort over outcome and develop their own internal motivation.     Here are some dos and don’ts of giving praise.       

Don’t: Praise the Person: avoid praising ability (“You are so smart.” “You are good a puzzles.”)
Do: Praise the Process: focus on effort, strategies, and process (“You’re using great puzzle solving strategies.”)

Don’t: Praise as a Reward: avoid rewarding your child with praise
Do: Provide Informational Feedback: provide specific feedback on performance

Don’t: Compare to Others: avoid comparing your child to their peers, even in a positive way
Do: Focus on Personal Mastery: focus on your child’s individual growth and performance

Don’t: Set Inappropriate Expectations: avoid setting too low or too high expectations (“This is the best story I have every read.”)
Do: Set Reasonable Expectations: praise should reflect standards that could be met

Don’t: Evaluate: avoid praising with judgements (“I like how clean your room looks.”)
Do: Encourage: give encouragement to help your child develop internal evaluation (“Your room looks clean.”)

You can also praise more than just your child’s achievements. Don’t forget to praise things like kindness, compassion, courage, empathy, assertiveness, and forgiveness.

Want more examples of growth mindset praise?

  • “You tried different strategies and you figured out how to complete your assignment.”
  • “Great effort! You must have worked really hard.”
  • “You stayed at your desk, kept your concentration, and kept on working.”
  • “You didn’t give up when it was hard.”
  • “That was a really kind gesture you made to your friend.”
  • “You were willing to try something new.”

Remember, your words have a big impact on your children. Help them to develop a positive sense of self and an openness to grow by being mindful of your praise. If you are worried that your child has developed negative sense of self, reach out to one of our therapists today. We are here to help!