Children work toward goals and achievements, with varying amounts of success, just like adults. Hearing encouragement and positive feedback with success can be a powerful motivator, advises a report published by The Parent Institute. Providing support by acknowledging a child’s accomplishments can help the child feel successful and empowered to continue to achieve goals and meet objectives, but empty praise can have a negative effect instead.
Recognize your child’s efforts and hard work -- not just the end result. For example, saying “Wow! I can really see how hard you worked on that drawing!” over focusing on the end result through praise such as “You got an A! Super job!” is more effective because it enables the child to develop his own opinion of his end results. You are acknowledging your child's efforts and accomplishments in a positive manner without placing a judgement on the final result.
Make your acknowledgement of your child’s accomplishment specific and detailed, advises the International Children’s Education website. Generic descriptors such as “great” or “nice” lack specifics, and therefore fall flat. Instead, notice specific details of how your child reorganized her closet or got along well with her brother.
Deliver your acknowledgement to your child in private, suggests child psychologist Louise Porter. A private conversation ensures that no comparisons occur, which could lead to manipulation from your child and jealousy in other children. Your one-on-one conversation can be every bit as powerful and effective to impart your positive message to your child.
Don’t wait for big accomplishments, according to the “Resilience Guide,” published by the American Psychological Association. A large goal or assignment often seems less overwhelming when someone breaks it up into smaller pieces. Children can find this especially helpful. Whenever you see your child working hard toward a large goal, celebrate the successes along the way. For example, when a child is learning to read, the first time she sounds out a sentence can be worthy of encouraging words.
Ask your child what she thinks of her accomplishment. Seeking your child’s opinion encourages her to evaluate herself and her efforts. This self-evaluation is important for building strong self-esteem. You might say, “Did you have fun? How do you think that went? Do you want to do it again?” You can also agree with her as she expresses positive emotions about her accomplishments.
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