Is it possible to praise a child appropriately and effectively using words? Children can be tricky to encourage with words. However, children can benefit from words of encouragement when they are used correctly. Unfortunately, there will be side effects if you aren’t careful.
A child can be praised in many ways, but not all words of encouragement are the same. In addition, some types of encouragement can do more harm than good when used too much.
So how to encourage kids without negative side effects?
The key lies in when and how children are praised.
Make eye contact with them.
The way you praise is as important or even more important than what you say. Make eye contact and get down on their level, face to face, whenever possible. Children gain confidence from such interactions.
Recognize each child’s strengths
Children cannot help comparing themselves with others. When a child has an older sibling, they always compare themself to them. Older siblings always do things better than the younger ones. But it’s good to encourage their strengths. For example, the older ones might be better at sports and arts, but it’s good to encourage the younger ones. Let him know his brother had ahead of him and focus on what he is good at. For example, I see that your brother can kick the ball far, but you can run almost as fast as him. As a result of using this approach, children can learn that everyone is unique and has strengths of their own.
Be Careful How You Use Your Words
Praise should be given in a manner appropriate for your child’s developmental stage. For example, it is enough to smile at a baby when she smiles at you to praise her. However, as your child gets older, you should use terms that show understanding and empathy. For example, if your toddler tries and fails to put on her socks, say, “You’re trying so hard to be a big girl.”. Then, after we help you get your socks on, you can put on your shoes by yourself.”
Focus on Process, Not Outcome
When we praise children simply for being intelligent, we are only praising their given genetic characteristics instead of what they are trying to accomplish. Loving the process, a positive attitude, and the desire to make children into hard-working kids.
That’s why it is essential to focus on the process rather than the result of raising toddlers and preschoolers. For example, if your toddler enjoys helping you care for the family pet but sometimes makes a mess, you can say, “I know it’s hard to carry the cat’s water bowl without spilling, but I like the way you’re trying.” For your kids that love playing football, try, “What a good job of passing the ball to the striker for the goal.” In both cases, you’re praising effort that leads to success, which allows you to remain positive even if you’re not satisfied with the outcome. And it’s okay to let them fail. Whenever we attempt to do for children what they can do for themselves, we undermine their sense of competence. The ability to complete tasks without adult assistance is crucial to a child’s development of self-confidence.
Do not ignore the little things.
Children thrive on attention. It makes them feel nurtured. As a result, kids sometimes do things willingly rather than being told to do so. For example, sometimes your kid might get ready for bed and brush their teeth without being asked. A praise would be good, and maybe a tiny reward as simple as reading a storybook or spending a few extra minutes with them can go a long way. And before they fall asleep, tell them what they did right, for example, “thank you for getting ready for bed and brushing your teeth withing beings asked. This can boost your child’s confidence knowing that you notice what they did.
Be careful not to overdo it.
It is possible to lose credibility by praising too much. Once you say ‘good job’ or ‘I love that picture’ so many times, the words lose their meaning. Whenever possible, be specific. Tell your child, “I love the way you paint every corner of that canvas,” or “What a beautiful combination of colours you chose.” Such descriptive comments explain to your child why you approve of them. Most children can identify hollow praise from the real deal, and they don’t need to be complimented for every little thing.
Excessive praise, such as “you are the best,” “you are the smartest,” or “you are the most wonderful child in the world,” will only lead to disappointment. If children are overpraised, they may feel pressured, and it may encourage them to seek approval from others constantly. You can help your child grow into a confident and resilient adult by giving frequent encouragement and saving the praise for when it counts.
Keep Your Child’s Chin Up
Do you ever reflect on the message you’re sending your children when you make remarks that depreciate your abilities? For example, “I’m a terrible cook” or “I have no artistic talent”. Soon enough, your children are just as critical of themselves as you are. Therefore, it is vital to acknowledge your child’s frustration and offering encouragement. For example, if your toddler is having trouble holding on to her bicycle, say, “Bicycles are tricky! If you keep trying, eventually you’ll get it.”
When a child is learning something new, encouragement from you is both wonderful and crucial. For example, as your toddler learns to tie her shoes, you can watch and praise what she’s doing well. For example, say, “Good, that’s how you cross those laces. I like your determination, even when it’s hard to wrap that second lace around at first. Your fingers will get stronger, and you’ll remember it better every time.” This kind of encouragement boosts optimism. There is no doubt that optimism and self-esteem go hand in hand.
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