Four Ways To Offer Praise To Kids

four-ways-to-offer-praise-to-kidsMark Twain once said that “he could go three months on a good compliment.”  Just like we need oxygen, food and water to develop and grow, we need encouragement and praise to be healthy. And as much as you, as an adult, may enjoy hearing a good word about yourself, kids truly thrive on encouragement and praise.

We need to be generous with encouragement and praise for kids. It will provide a sense of internal motivation that allows them to focus on the most important aspects of life. In his book, Drive, Daniel Pink lines out the three levels for motivation: Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. These aren’t just concepts that work to intrinsically motivate people in the workforce, but can definitely be applied to parenting children. Giving kids praise for the right things in the right way can help them go farther faster.

Here are four thoughts about offering praise to kids:

Praise Effort and Strategy, Not Intelligence

if we praise kids for intelligence only, they will always think of challenges as an indicator of their smarts.  As a result, they won’t tackle difficult challenges, but take the easiest route to reinforce the fact that they believe they are smart. A better outcome is for children to believe that they are appreciated for trying to tackle the difficult tasks.  They learn that effort and hard work are what helps grow a person.

Make Praise Specific

Instead of offering generalities, kids should be told specifically what was noteworthy. Why did we give them this praise? What specific thing warranted it? Specifics help kids get a glimpse of what they did and how well they may have done it. It allows them to hone in on those gifts they most enjoy using and therefore, developing.

Praise in Private

Giving a child words of praise doesn’t have to be ceremonial. In fact, the best and most optimal way is for it to be done privately.

Offer Praise Only When There Is Good Reason For It

Don’t tease a kid with fake praise. Kids can see right through it.  The best policy is to find something noteworthy to praise them for or to keep quiet.


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