Why being liberal with your praise is one of the best ideas

screen-shot-2017-07-18-at-1-21-19-pmAccording to a Harvard study, the idea praise to criticism ratio is 5.6:1. For every negative thing you say, you need to say 5-6 positives things to improve relationships and performance.

Praise is a great tool, perhaps the most useful tool that a motivator can use – and all parents should be good motivators. You motivate, not to push but to lift them. Your praise indicates that you have noticed something and that you care about it and the person doing it. It generates far more than the temporary sugar-buzz a chocolate bar reward might give them.

Praise alters your children’s attitudes and feelings about themselves. The words people hear about themselves echo for a long time. (Sadly, criticism seems to echo even longer. Many of us still cringe from harsh words spoken to us decades ago). Because of this echo effect, praise tends to build internal reinforcement. When a child repeats behaviour he has been praised for in the past, he hears again the echo of praise he got before, and experiences the good feelings. The reward becomes internal.

Another great spin-off from praise is that it also strengthens the relationship between the one praising and the one being praised. You have to be remarkably inept in your praising to make someone dislike you by praising them! And by constantly looking for things to praise in your children, you will find more and more that you like and enjoy about them.

Let your children see your excitement about their successes. Be liberal and consistent with your praise, and remember to be loving and encouraging in their failures. Never let your encouragement give the impression that your love is conditional on their success. Can you over-praise? Yes, but most kids today would benefit from more praise, so if you are going to make a mistake, err on the side of being too generous!


By John Cowan, The Parenting Place

Improving and equipping families to thrive.

Read more from John and The Parenting place here.