It is important for children to feel good about themselves and to develop positive self images. The messages children receive from their parents, grandparents and teachers form a strong foundation for this.
‘Labelled praise’ is one way of fostering this in children as it describes exactly what is positive about your child’s behaviour. Labelled praise lets your child know what aspects of his or her behaviour are good, and results in his or her receiving attention for behaving well. In this way children are more likely to continue with positive behaviour. As well as encouraging children to behave well, praise and attention can help develop their self esteem and feelings of competence.
Examples of labelled praise are:
“Alice, that was really great the way you picked up your toys when I asked you.”
“Thank you James for waiting for me to finish talking on the phone. Well done.”
“John, well done for looking at Mrs James when you said “hello” to her.”
“Betty, I like the way you helped your brother when he lost his jumper.”
It is also very important to look at how you praise your child. As they say, “it’s not what you say but the way you say it.” When we talk to others, for both adults and children, 70 per cent of what we say is conveyed through our body language, expression and tone of voice. Therefore, if you sound bored or tired, or don’t look at children when praising them, they will get a message that you are not really interested. If you get down to your child’s level, look at him or her and what he or she is doing, give a cuddle or a pat on the shoulder and lots of smiles, as well as labelled praise, then the positive messages you are trying to send get through loud and clear.