Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Don’t give empty praise.

What you can do

Give your child positive feedback, but be accurate. Don’t say his drawing or writing assignment looks amazing when both of you know it doesn’t. Instead, praise your child’s efforts. Emphasize how much work he put into an activity and ask questions about the process he used rather than focusing on the outcome.

What you can say

“Jacob, I know you’re frustrated and didn’t feel so great about how your clay pot turned out. You worked very hard at it, and I think it was a pretty good job. You said that you learned a few things about technique ‘the hard way’ and that this will help you next time.”

“I’m really happy you decided to try out this ceramics class. You seemed to have fun even though what came out of the kiln didn’t look the way you’d hoped it would. I’m looking forward to the next one!”

Why this will help

As children get older, empty praise can actually start to give them the impression that you either don’t understand what quality work is or, worse, that you don’t think they can do any better.

Honest praise, when delivered occasionally and in small doses, is one of the best ways to increase self-esteem in children with learning and attention issues. It also often gives kids the courage to try new and more daunting things.

Learn more about how to harness the power of praise.

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