Effective Praise can Boost Positive Behaviors
By Jessica Nava Orellana, AMFT# 117894 Para este blog en ESPANOL,
abra este documento.
With Covid-19 still interrupting our lives, we thought it would be good to remember our four part series last fall on Childhood Stress. We hope the wisdom of our therapists brings healing, help and hope to you and your children as we continue to navigate our new normal.
“I like the way you were able to get your clothes ready for tomorrow even though you are tired.” and “How did you do that? Wow! You’re awesome!” are all examples of praise we can give our children to support them while navigating challenges. When we experience distress, it is common to notice negative thinking changes. We might even find that irritability creeps in. Using praise can be a supportive tool in tackling stress. It is often difficult to give praise to others if we did not receive it as a child; however, you have the power to change that. Give yourself some time to learn some simple phrases of praise, and you’ll find it can go a long way, especially during these stressful times. We often don’t think of using praise to manage stress, but it can be a helpful tool to reinforce persistence.
What is praise? It is a word of encouragement that can lead to positive behaviors. Children respond well when praise is given to them daily. During these difficult times, we can say certain positive praises to boost self-esteem for our children. For example, while they are on online schooling saying “I like that you are able to focus during class. You are so intelligent and patient” can not only make them feel good, but continue to encourage participation. Of course, the most important praise of all is simply saying “I love you for who you are.”
Children need to hear words of connection and praise from their guardians. It is easy to focus on the negative when they are doing something wrong; however, if you can shift the focus to what they are doing right, positive change can happen quicker. Using embarrassment or shame do not motivate positive long-lasting change. If saying praise is difficult for you to do daily, start by saying “You did an amazing job today.” Catch your child when they least expect it, such as sitting down quietly while they are doing their homework, and give them a hug or a pat on their back. Positive praise can go a long way in shifting towards positive moods for both you and your child.
When praising your child, it is important to avoid combining praise with commands or putdowns. Such as, “Thank you for washing your plate, but you did it all wrong”. What a child will hear is the criticism and not the praise, so be careful to make sure you don’t inadvertently take the power away of your praise. Enjoy the positive effect you will soon see in yourself and your child!