An educator at my child’s day care recently told me exactly how to praise my two-year-old son.
His childcare centre’s approach is about praising specific behaviour.
Don’t say, “good boy” – it’s better to say, “good listening” – or so they say.
It sounds like a beginner’s English lesson gone wrong, “good eating” or “good talking” or “good packing away Charlie”.
Apparently this kind of praise works best if done five times a day, according to a new study as mentioned in Time.
De Montfort University researchers found parents who praised their kids five times a day saw an improvement in their children’s wellbeing as opposed to parents that weren't keeping track.
The study, based on two to four-year-olds, has coincided with the UK university's "Five Praise Campaign".
"It is all too easy to ignore children when they are doing as they are told and playing quietly, giving hard pressed parents a few minutes’ peace," says the campaign's website.
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"But the research evidence shows clearly that regular appreciation and praise not only fosters feelings of closeness and love in the babies and toddlers, but it encourages them to go on doing whatever it was that won them this attention."
Researchers say the frequent positive and loving attention not only encourages good behaviour in children, but also gives them a greater sense of security and happiness.
Researcher Carole Sutton told Time that parents could use more or less than five praises per day.
"The important point is that the children should hear positive messages frequently and over weeks and months, not just for a day or two," she said.
However, educational consultant, Prue Reid, says building children's self-esteem is not about making up praise for the sake of hitting a target.
"You've got to really pick what you praise for. There is nothing wrong with praising as long as it's meaningful and it's within context, " she told Mamamia.
"Rather than just pumping them up, you acknowledge the specific act," she added.
The Sydney based educator, who works with children and parents on building confidence, says it's good to use constructive praise.
"It's a very fine line. Lavishing children with praise for no real reason could actually have the opposite effect," said Reid.
The educator says it's also important to use appropriate language for negative behaviours.
"You always challenge and criticise the behaviour, not the child," she said.
Saying "drawing on the walls is not the right thing to do" is said to be better than "you're a naughty boy".
That said, here's hope I am singing these praises real soon:
- "Good peaceful supermarket trip Charlie."
- "You ate all your dinner Charlie - that's great."
- "Good sleeping through the night Charlie. Well done."
- "That's the quickest you have ever put your shoes on. You're so speedy at leaving the house."
- "Aww you said I love you, that means a lot. Good talking Charlie."