It’s easy to forget the power our
words have, and we need to remember that what we say to our kids
matters. And I’m not just talking about the negative things we say.
The way we praise our kids–where we do it, why we do it, and how
we do it–is important to think about. Here are three things to
consider when praising your kids.
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- Praise them for what they
do. Check out this study from researchers at Stanford and
the University of Chicago. Toddlers who were praised for what they
do rather than who they are were better equipped to take on
challenges when they are older. Instead of giving praise like “Good
boy!” or “Good girl!” explain to kids why they’re getting praise.
Say things like, “You helped me out so much when you helped pass
out the treats.”
- Avoid a hidden message. I’ve linked to Laycie
Costigan’s No Shame on You
article before, and I would recommend you print a copy out for
each one of your volunteers to read and keep. The reason I bring it
up this time is because even when we praise, we could be sending
the wrong message. From the article: “One of the volunteers had
said to the children who were fussing over a toy: ‘Jesus loves it
when you share.’ The message to these sweet little ones who are
learning about Jesus for the first time? Then he must not love
it–or me–when I don’t share!”
- Don’t overdo it. Kids are smart. They know
when you are faking praise and when you really mean it. This article by WebMD explains that too much
praise can backfire and have the opposite effect of what you wanted
it to do. Some things to keep in mind when you do praise: Don’t
praise obvious actions, be genuine, and praise the process and not
Do you praise with candy and prizes? I know of
many ministries–including the one I led–that use a treasure
chest, fun money, or a prize closet as a way to praise kids. I
encourage you to check out
another blog post I did on the subject. It may be time to get
rid of the rewards.
How do you praise your kids? Let us know in
the comment section below.