Encouraging kids whenever they do something nice or achieve something is an essential part of childhood. However, coming up with different ways to encourage kids with words is quite challenging. This will ultimately have a significant positive impact on their lives. It is important to be careful and attentive with words when you are dealing with your kids.
Parents and teachers usually adopt different ways to encourage kids with words. Positive reinforcement can greatly condition a child to deal with future challenges. This can be done with the usage of repeated praised behavior. Whether it’s in the case of academic performance or achievements in other fields, some of the common encouraging words that are used are “good job”, “well done” or “you’re amazing”. However, it is important to note that using encouraging words doesn’t always motivate kids. As a matter of fact, it can be counterproductive. The effectiveness of using positive words depends on the way it is used.
What are the Benefits of Using Encouraging Words with Kids?
There are usually three benefits of using the right words of encouragement. They include:
- Using encouraging words can improve a child’s self-esteem. A 1990 study reported that using positive words for kids with low esteem can be extremely beneficial for the child’s emotional and mental development.
- Positive encouragement can increase a child’s intrinsic motivation. Using intrinsic motivation in academics can influence a child’s desire to learn.
7 constructive ways of encouraging kids with words.
1. Praise Sincerely and Spontaneously
Parents often praise their children to boost their confidence even if they haven’t achieved anything noteworthy. They also encourage them to be good. It is important to understand that if encouraging words are not perceived as sincere and honest, they won’t feel as encouraged as they should be. Insincere praises are ineffective and can negatively impact the emotional health of the child.
Insincere encouragement can result in the child thinking that the praise is inconsistent with their behavior. For instance, when the parent praises even though the child didn’t perform well, the child thinks “that’s not true. I didn’t perform at all”. This can lead to self-criticism and make them self-destructive.
Overly general encouragement may also be perceived as insincere since any general praise is more likely to be inconsistent with the existing facts. For instance, if you are praising your child for doing well in school even if they haven’t, they may think to themselves “I’m not an angel. I am not doing so well in school”. Hence spontaneous praising can go a long way to encourage their good gestures and behaviors. Using praise to manipulate their behavior is also perceived to be insincere.
2. Don’t Use Conditional and Controlling praise
Controlling praises are used with the intention of controlling or manipulating. It is a technique that is used to affirm a child’s progress, improvement, and task. For instance, telling your child a statement such as “good! But I think you can do better” is usually intended to motivate the child to try harder next time.
In the case of using encouragement as a controlling tool, children can receive the proper approval and positive evaluation that helps to develop self-worth. Conditional encouragements develop contingent self-worth in kids. Self-worth is an aspect that kids tend to develop even when they are as young as two years.
These kids grow up to believe that their self-worth is directly linked to validation and approval. Hence their goals are mostly validation oriented. Some parents believe that this may be right and this is the method to adopt. It is also worth mentioning that this child may even avoid activities that may cause negative judgment.
Kids whose self-worth is based on others’ approval will not want to try new things because they think that this may not lead to a good outcome. These kids are often less creative since new ideas may interfere with their prevalent beliefs of validation. Hence it is crucial to understand the different ways to encourage kids with words to use them efficiently. For instance, if the child performed well academically, it is not advisable for the parent to say “you did very well just as expected.” Instead, they can say “you did very well on that one”.
3. Use Illustrated Comments
When a parent points out a specific aspect of the child’s performance and focuses on their behavior that led to their brilliant performance, they immediately get encouraged to keep doing good deeds. An important aspect of encouraging kids is to praise them using descriptive, illustrated and specific comments. Generic encouragement is more effective and is more likely to be perceived as sincere.
A 2017 study suggested that specific and descriptive comments are more effective and the child demonstrates higher interest and improved performance.
For instance, when your child makes a painting, instead of saying “what an awesome painting”, try saying “I love how you’ve used different colors on this drawing”.