The Power of Praise

In my days as a private school administrator, I cannot guess how many times I heard parents tell me that their child was gifted and they thought… once enrolled, the child would simply need to be advanced a grade. It is funny, but most of those children were just good, healthy, “normal”, yet wonderful children. However, in the eyes of those parents they were so much more.
It is only natural for parents to feel that their precious little one is a “child progeny.” I am personally thrilled when parents think their children are special (in a healthy way, of course). There are so many children who live life with no encouragement or praise from their parents. Parents who cherish their children and give them healthy praise are rare, and definitely give their children an edge by doing so. Many research studies support the fact that children who are encouraged are more confident and determined than other children who are not encouraged or praised.
Yet, praising children is more than just a pat on the back and the obligatory “Nice job!” Many child psychologists say we need to praise our children, but if it isn’t SPECIFIC praise then it may be harmful. That’s interesting isn’t it? So, praise and encourage your children, but identify the specific behavior that they are doing so well. It is the effort that matters most – not the innate gifts that we have such as intelligence, strength, or beauty. Isn’t it true for all of us, “It isn’t what we are given that matters, but what we do with what we have been given.” Give it a try – praise your children for the effort that they put forth, a good attitude that they displayed, or even good personal discipline that they exemplified, and that will encourage them to keep at it.
But wait – can there be too much of a good thing? These same psychologists seem to think so. I guess that would compare to chocolate… I love chocolate and could (probably) eat it all day long. Yet a complete diet of chocolate is not good for me. In the same sense praising a child too much can lead to serious problems. Research has shown that children who were excessively praised were less confident and less determined to face difficult challenges.
In our personal lives we are often very busy – yet we try to be as involved in our children’s lives and education as possible. This moment by moment influence is truly one of the core reasons why we homeschool. Yet, in the midst of all of that, it is common to lose sight of the “big picture.” Whether they are doing handwiriting, spelling, or even their online schoolwork there are always opportunites to encourage them, especially in areas that they have had struggles!
This little study into praise has made me more determined  (and I encourage you also) to be a proactive parent and to foster admirable qualities in my chidren. I plan on doing this by first, praising them and encouraging them; second, being there for them; third, spending quality time with them; and finally, by letting them know just how special they are to me!

This post was reposted here from my personal family blog, faith and a full house.

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