Effective Praise in Parenting

This weeks Cherishing the Cherubs project focuses on Praise.

Praise and positive reinforcement is a crucial element in providing our children with much that they need in order to approach life with a healthy optimism, self esteem and sense of pride.

In the past I have written about not relying on Praise alone to build positive self esteem, but rather it is one of the many tools we must use in order to raise happy and confident kids. I do however think there are some areas where we don’t always quite get it right.

In the early years we have no trouble heaping praise on our little cherubs as they learn to clap their hands, crawl, walk and kick a ball. It is the later years however, particularly the teenage years, where this praise often diminishes to a trickle. I recently read that teenagers, on average, hear one positive comment for every five negative ones. Not having reached that stage myself I am well aware that those said teenagers may sometimes make it difficult for one to heap on the praise.  But with all the weird stuff going on in the teenage brain, the influx of hormones and the physical changes to their bodies, it is important to remember that these are crucial years in their development and we need to ensure the praise we so readily bestow on them in the early years, continues throughout these  later ones.

The reasons for praise can be many and varied as can the way in which we praise.

If you are finding it hard to find any positives, remember that praise and positive reinforcement shouldn’t be limited to achievements alone or behaviours that are naturally expected of them. We must remember to praise children for their endeavours, to praise the times they try again after a failure and to praise them for moving outside their comfort zones.

For me therefore, it seems that all of my children have different requirements in terms of praise, not just because of their different ages and stages of development, but also because of their different personalities, their differing strengths and weaknesses and ultimately their different needs.

For the 4 week old: that’s easy! I just keep cuddling, kissing and showering him with words that all suggest little other than my complete doting adoration of him.

The 2 year old: He definitely responds well to positive reinforcement. He loves feeling like he is helping and so at any sign of a tantrum I have had great success by distracting him with a job or task to undertake, leaving him to revel in the subsequent praise.

The primary  school age boys:This is where one sometimes needs to be more creative! My 8 year old exhibits a juxtaposition between a child that wants parental approval and one who is ever keen to exert his stubbornness assertiveness. I guess here it is about catching the positive stuff and reinforcing. The 9 year old is someone who has had many achievements come relatively easy. This is all well and good, however when it comes to things that he doesn’t naturally excel at, he often lacks enthusiasm. He needs to know that it is OK to not be great at everything and thus needs praise and encouragement to try things outside his comfort zone. The eldest boy is probably the complete opposite. Many things don’t come as naturally to him but his endeavours and preparedness to give things a go mean that it is easy to praise those achievements when they happen as well as his endeavours.

Do you praise your kids in different ways? Is it something you consciously think about?

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Sif

    I love how you defined praise by the needs of children of different ages! This is pretty much how we go about it with our lot, too!

    1. Martine

      Thanks Sif 🙂

  2. Nee

    Great post. My kids are a constant reminder that there is no one size fits all approach to parenting. BTW belated congrats on your beautiful bundle x

    1. Martine

      Absolutely, for every aspect of parenting we need to be flexible to adjust to our kids many different needs 🙂

  3. Kellie

    I love how you’ve broken this down into ages and needs. This is really great.
    That stat you mentioned about teenagers is quite worrying. Something to be conscious of in the future, that’s for sure. x

    1. Martine

      Thanks Kellie, it is a worrying stat and yes something to be conscious of.

  4. Melanie Graham

    All very true! They definitely need different forms of praise at different stages and ages of life. Great post! xx

    1. Martine

      Thanks Melanie 🙂

  5. Naomi Ellis

    Awesome post. I find that I am constantly thinking of different ways to praise my children with them all at different ages and it is stretching me quite a bit. Now that some of my kids are getting older I am finding I need to be more creative. They are not so much interested in kisses and cuddles and I have to look out for new ways to speak positively to them, so hard when they have their own agenda with how things should be done around the house! Thanks so much for joining in and hope you are settling alright with that gorgeous new cherub of yours. N x

  6. Grady Pruitt

    I know with mine, it seems as if I’m constantly getting on to the almost 9 year old for something or the other. But I always try to make an effort to balance it with praise. I’m not as successful with this as I would like, though. I completely relate to the 8 year old not being enthusiastic on subjects he’s not interested in.

    Toddlers are easy to praise. It seems we’re acknowledging every little discovery they make.

    I don’t have a teenager yet, but when mine reaches that stage, I hope I can still be able to find ways to give them praise.

  7. Debora

    First of all I would like to say awesome blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts prior to writing. I have had trouble clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out there. I truly do enjoy writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes tend to be lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Thanks!

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