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”.
4. Don’t Compare
One of the most important ways to encourage kids with words is to stop using words of comparison. Some parents may resort to encouraging their children through comparison. This is how most of us are raised. While growing up we were compared in schools, in sports, in extracurricular activities, or in any other activity. Sometimes these comparisons may help someone to motivate us to work harder. However, it is worth noting that this approach may also prove to be unfavorable.
For instance, when you compare yourself with a more successful colleague and perform well in comparison, you are proud, excited, and motivated. However, when you fail, you beat yourself up and feel depressed.
Comparison praising makes children more susceptible to future setbacks. Kids who are praised with comparison, don’t tend to stop comparing even as adults. They also lack the motivation to do better. In difficult times, they are more likely to get angry, frustrated, or anxious than other kids who were brought up without comparison. Winning oriented attitude can affect the child’s desire to learn or overcome failure. As a way to avoid failure, these children often avoid challenges or trying new things that require skills that they are not good at.
So in case you are praising your child, instead of saying “you are so good at singing, just like your sister”, opt for saying “you are a wonderful singer”.
5. Avoid Overpraising
Encouraging children with tasks that are easy to complete or not done well enough is considered as insincere. Hence there may be several negative impacts when adults tend to praise simple tasks or if they overpraise their children. It can also have a significant impact on the child’s personality. Children may internalize the belief that they are special individuals who are entitled to privileges.
Parents often tend to overpraise their children with low self-esteem in an attempt to make them feel better about themselves. Such attempts can ultimately lower the child’s motivation and self-worth. On the other hand, in children with higher self-esteem, over-praising doesn’t lower their self-esteem but tends to cultivate narcissism.
A 2015 study pointed out that narcissism is partly rooted in early socialization experiences, and suggests that parent-training interventions can help curtail narcissistic development and reduce its costs for society. Children are more likely to grow up to be narcissistic when their parents overvalue them and when their parents see them as more special and more entitled than other children.