If you’re like most parents, then you don’t hesitate to show your appreciation and praise towards most actions of your child. After all, isn’t our encouragement the secret item to promoting our kids’ success and happiness? What better way to tell your child saying, “Good job buddy!” “You are so smart!” or “I’m proud of you.”
Well, as it turns out, the excess amount of encouraging messages may not be as helpful as we think. Studies reveal that wrongly worded praises can marginalize children’s desires to take on challenges, shy away from criticism, feel entitled and emotional outbursts.
In no shape, we are highlighting that you condone praises, rather opt a unique way out of this situation. The right kind of praise will always impart a powerful yet proven influence on children’s developing psychology. A correctly delivered message can impart a lot more than the abundance of insincere praises, which only end up hindering the child’s development. Additionally, a well-worded message can be motivating for a child and in turn, helps build character and contributes in enhancing resilience.
Following is an accumulation of six methods which can gradually shift your paradigm of praise to a genuine recognition.
Put a Leash on Unnecessary “Oohs” and “Ahhs.”
We start with the concept of narcissism, reacting to every single action or attempt will set a wrong tone in your child’s head, making them believe they are entitled and more special than anyone else in the world.
Case in point: Our most-praised youth now represents the most narcissistic generation in human history. Add the fact that our children will be growing with these habits is scary.
Studies reveal that an alarming two-thirds of college students believe that they need to be given special considerations, especially in regards to their grades. And then there is the remaining one-third who advocates that final exams’ need to be rescheduled if they hamper their vacation plans.
Some experts highlight the eerie similarities between praise and caffeine addiction, both start as a way to kick-start your day, both start to grow on you psychologically and last but not the least both have an effect on your lifestyle, making it impossible to complete your day without them.
If your child keeps asking ‘How did I do?,’ instead of saying ‘Good job!’
Maybe it’s the right time to change the way you compliment the efforts. Replace overhauled praises with brief and neutral comments. ‘You finished the math assignment alone.” Make them realize their potential without bolstering their egos.
Want your child to be respectful? A study conducted on a group of children aged 7-10 revealed that praising their character instead of their behavior yielded kindhearted tendencies.
A Harvard study including 10,000 middle and high school students revealed that 4 out of every five students admitted that their parents valued their academic credentials as metrics of success, which makes one wonder; why exactly parents question the morality of their children when they (themselves) are at fault?
Instead of asking about grades, how about asking about the deed for a change: “Randy, you’re the person who always offers to lend a hand.”
Focus on effort
A famous Columbia State University study revealed that school-aged kids appreciated for their intelligence are less open to attempt new challenges. However, when praised for their efforts, they worked longer and harder. Exaggerating intellect or talent makes kids more vulnerable to failure and explore.
So instead of saying ‘You’re so smart!’ how about “You’re improving because you are putting in all that effort.”
Prefer the use of nouns
A study conducted on children aged 3-10 by the researchers of University of San Diego revealed that a slight change in the word & grammar selection makes noticeable changes in children’s behavior.
Consider this example:
- Some children choose to help
- Some children choose to be helpers
Children invited to help via the use of (to be) will most likely help than the children who were given the opportunity to help.
Its a known fact that kids observe adults a lot and recreate or mimic their actions. A British study conducted in 1970 revealed this fact in its entirety. They had 140 school-age children receive tokens of a local game; they were then told that they could either donate these tokens or keep ’em. The children looked towards their teachers to see what they would do in such situation. The teachers asked to give away their token but decided to hold onto her token. The results highlighted an overwhelming majority of students had decided against donating their tokens.
When she admonished children on the value of giving, they complied at first, but there was little impact on their generosity.
Rule 6: Inner Qualities.
As a society, we put emphasize outside appearance forgetting the importance of character. The result is that majority of children evaluate their peers and themselves by what they wear.
What about the solution. The solution enunciates that you part ways with traditional schooling and opt a more dynamic process of educating children. Primary among them is the Montessori Method. This self-paced and highly collaborative environment gradually makes children comfortable with themselves and with their peers.
As per the experts from Milton Montessori, the right kind and amount of praise remains the most effective way of magnifying kids’ behavior, but with the right selection of words and tone. A simple yet subtle switch in words can have a big impact in children’s development.