Monday, May 13, 2013

Balancing Praise and Criticism as your Child Learns

Small children can and do learn very quickly. They have the capabilities of mastering skills in a minuscule amount of time. They often do this by watching those around them. Children strongly identify with our patterns of behavior and mimic everything we do; it's important for us as adults, role-models and parents to be a good example of how to learn, how to help and how to give praise.


There is often a lot of pressure for children to learn to read, write or learn to play an instrument. Sometimes they feed off of the praise others give them for their success rather than their own feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment. This can actually be harmful to your child's learning and self-esteem. Praise is good but too much praise can become pressure instead of reassurance. Giving small and gentle amounts of praise is good when your child succeeds. Dr. Carol Dweck, a  researcher in the field of achievement and success, suggests praising your child for their hard work instead of labeling them as "smart" or "talented". For example, "I can tell you worked so hard on those math problems!" Instead of "Look how smart you are!". This will help your child realize that it's the hard work and determination that really matters. Encouraging them to continue forward is also good but avoid shaping his problem for him or pressuring him to be the best of all; focus on his best. Praise is also great after a child fails and then tries again! This may be hard to watch but let your child fail. Failure with new explorations of success are good for your child. Don't jump in the moment you see struggle. Allow your child room to find ways to accomplish the goal or task he has set out to do.

In Dr. T. Berry Brazelton's book touchpoints: Your Child's Emotional and Behavior Development he says, "Never forget the enormous power of frustration to fuel a small child as he searches for mastery and a sense of his own competence."

From Frustration to success and accomplishment
Your example of how to praise will help fuel the success of your child. If you are faced with a task that is challenging to YOU, remember that your child is watching. They are observing how you will overcome that challenge. Take note of how you react. Find alternative solutions and don't give up. They'll mimic the way you change your failures into successes.

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