On several occasions we have talked about the negative consequences that rewards and punishments have on children’s education . But what about praise and flattery? How do compliments influence the lives of our children? Is praise the same as encouragement?
Today we focus on the topic of praise and encouragement : what are the differences between one concept and another, how do they affect the child’s life and what aspects to take into account to favor the development and learning of our children.
What is praise and how does our praise influence a child’s behavior?
According to the RAE , “to praise is to feel admiration for someone highlighting their qualities or merits”. When we praise our son we are making a positive judgment ( and subjective ) with respect to the final result that his behavior, behavior or action has had.
An everyday example is found in the frequent “very good” that we usually say to children when they show us something ; from a drawing they have done at school, to the last pirouette they have learned to do with the skates.
Other common phrases are, for example: “But how smart you are!”, “How I like what you’ve done!”, “I’m so proud of the grades you’ve gotten!” …
With these types of comments, the adult is approving the child’s behavior and making a favorable judgment from his point of view.
That is, praise or praise focuses on the end result of the child’s behavior, and approves it from the adult’s point of view.
In itself praise is not bad. Praising successes helps reinforce positive behaviors . In addition, the child who receives the praise feels good (we all like to be praised!), so he will try to do the same next time in order to receive that nice praise from his parents again. .
The problem is when the praises become continuous and/or are excessive, because the child can end up becoming addicted and dependent on them and doing things in order to “please others”, feeling good only when others approve of what they have done.
In the long run, this can end up causing self-esteem problems , lack of self-confidence, insecurity and dependency, as our child will always need to seek the approval and recognition of others .
What is encouragement and what does the child feel when encouraged?
Quoting the RAE again , we read that “to encourage is to instill encouragement or effort in someone”. In this way, when we encourage our son we are encouraging him to act, to think, to explore, to give his opinion… without focusing on the final result of his behavior and how he makes us feel. U.S.
When a child feels proud, confident and happy with what he does, he does not care what others think , so he will never act seeking the approval of others. In addition, during the process, thanks to the encouragement and encouragement of his parents, he will be able to discover his own strengths and virtues , experience the consequences of his actions , learn from mistakes and understand the importance and value of effort and improvement .
We encourage our children when we take an open interest in what they are doing and ask them about it. Thus, instead of saying “Very good! What a beautiful drawing!” , we can ask them things like what colors they have used, what what they have painted symbolizes, how they have done it, what inspires them, what they feel when they see the final result…
In this way we are encouraging them to reflect , to realize details that may have gone unnoticed initially, to evaluate themselves and change what they ( and not others ) believe they can improve.
We also instill encouragement and encouragement when instead of focusing on the grades they bring , we focus on the effort they have made during the course , on how much they have studied, on how they have overcome, on the courage they have shown to face to that matter that chokes them…
Likewise, when we make our children aware of their own achievements ( “have you noticed how you resolved this conflict?” ) and care about how this makes them feel, we are also encouraging them.
The importance of finding balance
Now, does this mean that we should forever eradicate praise when we address our children?
Obviously not, but it is necessary to be aware of what compliments and messages of encouragement contribute, and try to compensate for a balance that in most cases is too unbalanced towards the side of flattery.
Of course we can praise our children from time to time! In fact, it’s nice that they know how proud we are of them and how much we love what they do. For a child, receiving recognition from her parents is extremely important, as it makes her feel loved and accepted.
But we must not fall into excessive and continued praise , nor forget what is really important: the child’s need to be encouraged and encouraged to continue their learning process.