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The Power of Praise: Best Practices for Encouraging Children

Praising children effectively is a powerful tool for nurturing their self-esteem and motivation. However, not all praise is created equal. In this article, we'll explore the three types of praise — empty praise, effort-based praise, and behaviour-based praise — and provide examples and recommendations for using each effectively.

1. Empty Praise

Empty praise is generic and lacks specific feedback. It often includes phrases like "Good job!" or "Well done!" While it may seem positive, empty praise does little to help children understand what they did well or how they can improve.

Example: "Great job on your drawing!"

Recommendation: While it's okay to use empty praise occasionally, it's important to balance it with more meaningful feedback. It is great for toddlers as they cannot fully grasp yet the full context of the praise.

2. Effort-Based Praise

Effort-based praise focuses on the process rather than the result. It recognizes the effort and strategies a child uses to accomplish a task, which can boost their confidence and resilience.

Example: "I can see you worked hard on that puzzle. You kept trying different pieces until you figured it out!"

Recommendation: Effort-based praise is particularly effective for encouraging perseverance and a growth mindset. It might sound a bit condescending to you, but it will be received very well by your children. This type of praise is great for when language is being developed, so preschoolers and up!

3. Behaviour-Based Praise

Behaviour-based praise acknowledges specific behaviours or actions. It helps children understand what they did well and encourages them to repeat those behaviours in the future.

Example: "You did a great job sharing your toys with your friend. That was very kind of you!"

Recommendation: Behavior-based praise is excellent for reinforcing positive behaviours and teaching children about social expectations. This praise can be used when children already grasp the concepts of what is acceptable and not acceptable. if language is well developed, justifying the praise is a great strategy to guide children towards the desired behaviour.

When to Use Each Type of Praise

- Empty praise: Use sparingly and supplement with more specific feedback.

- Effort-based praise: Use when you want to encourage perseverance and a growth mindset, especially when a child is facing a challenging task.

- Behavior-based praise: Use to reinforce positive behaviours and teach children about social expectations.

In conclusion, praise is a powerful tool for encouraging children, but not all praise is equally effective. By using a combination of empty praise, effort-based praise, and behavior-based praise, you can provide meaningful and constructive feedback that boosts children's confidence and motivation.

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