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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Praising Your Child

Tell your children when they are doing a good job. Be there to see them when they shine.
All children and teens want their parents' approval. This gives them confidence to face the world. It helps build a strong identity and gives them courage to challenge themselves.
Giving praise also helps build your relationship with your children. Numerous studies shows that children who have close, supportive relationships with their parents are better off. They are healthier and are less likely to be involved in risky behaviors. They have higher self-esteem and are more successful in school and beyond.

  • Celebrate your child’s successes - even the little ones. Offer praise for a job done well. Focus on the things your child does right.
  • Be specific about what you are praising them for. It shows you were paying attention and that you really mean it.
  • Pay attention to what is important to them. Show an interest and praise them about the things they care about - even if they aren't as meaningful to you.
  • Give your praise as soon as they earn it. Don't wait until later, when it won't mean as much.
  • Praise the effort. If you praise them for a personal trait (like being smart or talented), they will not learn to try things they are not good at. If you only praise the product (like good grades), it takes the focus off them. But if you praise the effort, it teaches them to keep learning and keep trying.
  • Give them plenty of opportunities to earn your praise. Like everyone else, teens need to feel they are worthy of love and praise. They gain self-respect from learning new skills, helping others, and showing they can be responsible.
  • Do not praise them when they have not earned it. Kids know phony praise when they hear it. They may be insulted by it. It may also make real praise feel less meaningful.
  • Criticize them less. Fear and shame will make them insecure and angry. Positive reinforcement is more effective, because it encourages them. Talk to them about their mistakes. Help them figure out what other choices they could have made.
  • If they fail, encourage them. If they tried hard, praise the effort. Praise will give them the confidence to keep trying.

Then, help them to improve. Praise small progress, along the way.

Words Make a Difference
Instead of just saying: Try Saying:
You are a good kid. I am proud of the way you handled that situation
Congratulations. You won. Congratulations.  You worked very hard to accomplish that goal.
You have good friends. I really like your friends.  You have good friends because you know how to be a good friend.
I’m proud of you. I’m proud of you.   You put a lot of thought into that and it showed.
You’re so smart! Now that’s using your brains! How did you figure that out? Nice try.  You really tried hard.  I’m sorry it didn’t work out this time.  I bet you can figure out how to make it work next time.

Print out this important reminder to praise your child and attach it to your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, or your office desk.