If there is one important lesson I learned in raising smart kids, it’s never to say “good job” even if the kids did a good job. I first read this advice from the book  NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children. To praise your kids intelligence can have a long term negative effects. [Read more about “Why you should stop saying “Good Job” to your kids”]

Saying “good job” or “very good” or “You are so smart” is like second nature. We tend to say it quickly without really thinking. But research shows that these words and phrases are not the effective ways to praise a child. In fact, saying empty praises can result in poor performance and even low self-esteem.

So how to praise your kids?

We should praise kids for their effort and not for their intelligence or talent. By praising the action, the process or the effort, kids will realize that success is within their control and not due to some inborn trait.

We should also be specific on the praise. Say the exact action or process that the child did instead of just saying “very good”.

Do not overpraise. This is when we kept on saying praises even for the simple things not worth praising. Or when we continue praising them for tying their shoelaces everyday since they first did it.

Praise the child without comparing them to another child. This is tempting since we want to set a model or a standard for a child to follow. But comparing can have negative effects. Instead, compare the action against how the same child performed in the past. Say something like “There are fewer colors outside the lines this time.” Or “You have more correct answers than yesterday.”

Finally, find an opportunity to praise. Receiving praise does increase a person’s morale. Try to catch your child doing something good and give a praise following the guidelines above.

Here’s an infographic showing how to praise your kids.

how to praise your kids

Infographic from Schoolbag

For more parenting tips, click here.




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