Should Parents Praise Their Children?

1. Praise the process, not the person: Praise your child’s effort, strategy, and process, rather than praising traits that they cannot change as easily (such as intelligence, athleticism, or beauty).

2. Use supportive rather than controlling praise: Research suggests that praise should support your child’s autonomy and encourage their own judgement of themselves. For example, “It looks like you really enjoyed that” rather than “It makes me happy when you score a goal.”

3. Avoid using praise that compares your child to other children: When you use praise to compare your child to other children, it seems to enhance performance in the short-term. However, in the long-term, this practice may be related to individuals judging their performance only in relation to other people rather than meeting their own goals or enjoying it themselves.

4. Use specific rather than general praise: Research finds that praise with specific information helps children to learn how to improve their behavior in the future. For example, “great job putting your toys back in the bin when you were done using them” helps children to learn a specific expectation.