There are some things you can keep in mind to make the most out of when you praise your children. Praise is great and even a simple “good job” goes a long way, but read on to learn about some useful tips to make praise as effective as possible.
- Immediacy – praise your child for their behavior as soon as you can! If you wait until later in the day to praise them for something they did that morning, praise won’t be as effective. One reason is your child, depending on age, may not even remember what they did that morning!
- Consistency – to see the quickest and biggest changes, you must try to be consistent in praising your child. If you’re working on improving your child’s listening, then praising them each time they listen the first time they’re told to do something will be more effective than just praising every once in a while.
- Specific – label the behavior your kiddo did that made you want to praise them. Instead of “good job,” say, “great job listening when I told you to _____.”
- Size – make your praise BIG if your child did well on something they really struggle with. Your praise probably won’t be so big on a behavior that your child normally does well at.
- Contrast – make sure your child knows you’re pleased/proud/happy by using a positive voice tone and happy facial expressions.
- Rationales – using rationales can be effective with older children. Let them know why it’s so important or meaningful that they did whatever you’re praising them for. For example, “thank you for listening to me the first time; when you listen right away you can get back to playing faster!”
- Frequency – you want to be as frequent as possible with your praise, especially if you have a kiddo who is struggling in multiple areas. The *ideal* ratio is 4:1 – four praise statements for every correction. However, that can feel like an impossible goal sometimes, so just do the best you can.
I have created a fun handout that can be printed and put up somewhere to help parents, grandparents, teachers, etc. remember the components of praise. You can find the printable version here.