It’s important to give your children positive feedback. It helps boost their self-esteem and to show your love and support. We’re told this time and time again, and it really is a very important part of parenting.
The problem is, no one really tells us what sort of words of encouragement to use. We rely on old chestnuts like “good job!” or “we’re proud of you!”, which are sort of generic and not actually the most effective things to say. Really, that’s praise, and not encouragement – both important, but different things. The major difference is that praise is given when children succeed, so if all they get is praise, they’re less likely to take risks – they want to get things “right” to get praise. Encouragement, on the other hand, can work even when mistakes are made or the final product doesn’t work out. Failing and trial-and-error are important parts of life, and giving words of encouragement in these moments are incredibly valuable tools for your children.
Still confused? Here are a couple examples:
It’s good to praise the process – so, saying something like “your hard work paid off! I’m proud of you!” is better than simply saying “good job”. Complementing the effort encourages them to put that effort in again. Simply complementing the result is sort of like saying that trying doesn’t matter unless they succeed.
It also helps to be specific – don’t just say “that’s a pretty picture” if they’ve drawn something. Instead, compliment the colors they picked or their creativity in picking to draw something in particular. Again, this is praising the process and encouraging them to keep experimenting in the future.
Words of encouragement recognize growth and effort, and recognizes contribution as opposed to just completion. It helps you promote perseverance, because encouragement can be given even when a child fails. It builds determination and confidence. Words of encouragement and positive parenting are great tools to help foster your children’s development.