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How to praise tykes

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By GreatSchools Staff

The situation: Without you asking, your kid got her socks and shoes on and comes right down to breakfast.
Praising the accomplishment: “You got your socks and shoes on! What a good girl.”
Praising the effort: “You found socks to match and got your shoes on without any help. That was a lot to do on your own.”

The situation: Your child has built an elaborate block city.
Praising the accomplishment: “Wow! That’s the most amazing block structure I’ve ever seen! You’re going to be a world-famous architect.”
Praising the effort: “Look at how many blocks are in your city! I can tell you worked really hard on it, but it must have been a lot of fun to build.”

The situation: You’re taking your child to a family get-together. He or she has bathed, combed their hair, and gotten dressed in their best outfit.
Praising the accomplishment: “You are the most handsome boy I’ve ever seen in my life!” or “You are the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen in my life!”
Praising the effort: “I know you don’t always like having your hair washed. But now that you’ve made such an effort to get all cleaned up and put your nicest outfit on, you sure do look fancy and ready to go to the party!”

Comments from readers

"As a social worker in a school, and a parent of two grown children, I have learned that the best self esteem builder is to let the child own their accomplishments, as well as their own curiosity. You can never go wrong by asking them, 'What do you think?' 'How did you do that?' 'How do you feel about that?' or 'Tell me about your project?'. When we praise their accomplishments we are making them dependent on the opinions of others for their self esteem."
"Isn't it amazing that it takes tons of research to figure out what a previous generation already knew. Common sense wins out every time."