It’s easy to forget the power our words have, and we need to remember that what we say to our kids matters. And we’re 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.
1. 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 recognized. Say things like, “You helped me out so much when you helped pass out the treats.”
2. Avoid a hidden message.
Even when we praise, we could be sending the wrong message. In the article “5 Ways to Stop Shaming Kids in the Name of Jesus” the author write, “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!”
3. 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 recognition 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 the product.
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