We have all heard how important praise and encouragement are to children. As children grow they need to hear frequent positive messages from others to gain a balanced and healthy self worth and to know what is right and good about the choices they make. Criticism on the other hand is often a hindrance to progress and positive growth. Most people do not thrive in an atmosphere of criticism and negative feedback, and children are especially sensitive to these kinds of messages that are often communicated to motivate and guide children.
Children are like sponges. They absorb every word that we say and then take it to heart. In fact children are constantly searching for approval and acceptance. We need to be sources of encouragement and hope for them, or they will find inappropriate ways to gain attention and approval.
Giving children praise has often been the method we use to motivate and send messages of approval to them. Praise can serve as an effective tool if used selectively and specifically with a child. However, it is limited in its effectiveness when the focus is a verbal reward for a task well done, or a positive remark for being the best. Most children need much more than praise to build internal resources of worth and value.
Words of encouragement are the key to helping children focus on their own efforts, improvements and choices. Instead of words of praise that say, “You must please me to get noticed,” words of encouragement say “I notice that you have worked hard so far on building that bridge.” Children build feeling of adequacy and worth when they see that although they may not be perfect, their efforts and contributions are valued. Often just stating something in positive rather than negative terms is enormously helpful to a child. For example: “I see you have found your sneakers, I’m sure it will only take you a minute to put them on,” is far better than, “Can’t you put your shoes on a little faster? We’re going to be late.” In fact, children who are repeatedly told that they are slow, will surely, in time, live up to that label.
Words of encouragement are messages went by loving and wise parents and teachers who see the overwhelming evidence of positive growth in the lives of children. Frequent use of encouragement statements say to a child, “I believe in you!”, “You are a capable person.”, You have shown effort and that is important.”, “You can try again.”, “Your contribution may not be perfect but it has great worth to me.”
…..Karin Klein, Administrator, Red Hill School, Red Hill, PA.
Parent Connection Archive
The Busy Bin
Praise and Encouragement
Your Child’s Fears
Your Child and Play
Teaching Your Child Responsibility
Make a Book With Your Child
Getting Ready For School
Learning to Laugh
Learning to Eat Healthy Food
Stress and Children
TV and Children