Children are very observant and sensitive; a lot of their learning happens through observation. They take their time to understand and pick things up from their environment around them. They are able to understand a lot more than they can make sense of, for example: if a child can see that their mother is not behaving the way she usually does, the child will be able to notice the difference but not understand what exactly this difference in behaviour is.
When a child does something and comes and shows their work to you, they are able to catch what you are saying, and it leaves an impact on them. There are two ways in which a parent can praise their children, they are:
- Empty Praise
- Effective Praise
Empty praise refers to compliments and words of encouragement that have no context to it. They are generalized statements that can be used in practically any situation. It can be representative of any situation. Some examples of what empty praise looks like are as follows:
- “Well done”
- “You did well”
- “Good job”
- “Wow that looks great”
- “Keep doing what you’re doing”
Effective praise refers to compliments and words of encouragement that has a context behind it, the praise is given for something specific the child has done. These statements and words can sometimes be generalized, but it is context specific, it praises and appreciates observable behaviour or actions that a child has engaged in. some examples of what Effective Praise looks like are as follows:
- “Well done on cleaning up after yourself”
- “You did well on your homework, I like how clearly you have written your answers”
- “You did a good job of cleaning your room, well done for putting everything back in its place”
- “This painting you made is beautiful, all the colours make your painting look so pretty”
- “The way you kicked the ball was so good, you are doing really well”
Effective praise works much better than empty praise because it shows your child that you are involved and observing what the child is doing. When children are young, they are looking for approval and validation from their direct support system (family). This kind of genuine praise for things that are observable shows the child that they are cared for and understood. It makes them feel more accepted, loved and cared for, which has a multitude of long-term benefits for the child and the relationship between the child and the parent.
It creates a strong bond of trust between the parents and the child. It gives the child a sense of security and confidence that they will be okay. They will also learn that it is okay to make mistakes and fail, rather than not try at all.
By appreciating all that your child is trying to do and experience, you are showing them implicitly that you accept them completely. They are able to sense that what you are saying to them is more than just empty words.