The Power of Praise

The basic building block in positive parenting is having a strong, nurturing relationship with your child. While this seems pretty simple, it can easily get lost amidst the morning rush to school, the growing mountains of laundry, the juggling of schedules and, of course, the constant pushing of boundaries. While we know that it is normal for children at each stage of development to push boundaries and challenge their parents (everything from a toddler insisting on wearing a swimsuit rather than a winter coat; a six year old telling lies; a teenager staying out past the agreed time to return home), it can often create stress and strain in the family. If allowed to build up, everyone in the family can start to resent each other and lose sight of the fact that they really love and value one another.

One of the best ways to step back from the strain and reconnect with your child is to make sure that you praise them daily.  It is important that everyone in your family (including you!) knows that they are valued and loved and that they have a special, secure place in the family.

There are a few practical ways to do this:

  • Notice what is good about each member of your family
  • Give specific compliments on this daily
  • Encourage all members of the family to do this for each other
  • Try to ignore annoying behavior and to constantly find fault (Try to pick your battles and let the little things go)

Giving regular, specific compliments to your child will help them see themselves as valuable and will help you all appreciate each other as a family.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find right the words to give compliments—You can try something like “Thanks for trying so hard on…” or “I appreciate you being  (so thoughtful, honest, persistent, kind, etc.) or “You’ve made real progress on…” Be as specific as possible. If you say something like, “Well done”; follow up with something concrete, like “I’m really pleased that you are trying so hard with your maths homework.” If you say, “Great Job”, follow up with “You showed a lot of creativity with the painting.”

Remember: “Noticing and complimenting the good increases my appreciation for family members and helps them behave better.”

Strengthening Families Programme Tips Sheet