Parent Coaching Blog


Goodbye to Good Job and Way to Go

I want to be clear that using the praise phrases listed on this chart are a great start, but they’re simply not enough.
NOT ENOUGH? NOT ENOUGH? How can that be…?
What about all those trophies they’ve received?
What about all those times I’ve bought them a treat?
What about all those times I’ve told them how terrific they are?

Praising you kids is important. It’s just that most praise statements are waytoo general. If we want the praise to be effective, we need to be clear and specific about how we praise.

When we praise, we usually do so in order to change behaviors. If this is our plan, then we need to connect the praise to what they are doing or how they have specifically shown growth.

Here are some examples of how you can shift your praise from general to specific…

Instead of “Wow!” you could add, “You tied your shoes all by yourself and no one told you to do it.”
Instead of “You’re the best!” you could add, “You did your best to include your brother when your friend came over.”
Instead of saying “You did a fantastic job,” you could add, “I saw that you cleaned up all the big stuff first and then you went around your room and gathered all the little things.”
Instead of saying, “You are a real trooper,” you could add, “I know it was hard to wait for mommy to get off the phone, but you waited on the couch quietly and you didn’t interrupt.”

Adding specifics to your praise statements makes them concrete, relevant and meaningful. It gives your child proof that you have paid attention, and they will be more likely to do things to repeat this kind of positive attention in the future.

One simple praise statement that goes a long way is… “I’ve noticed… ” If you add a specific positive comment after this simple phrase you can begin to let your child know you are watching and paying attention to the good choices they are trying to make. Try to add in a few more specific praise statements into your day and watch the good choices increase.
They don’t need trophies, awards, special treats, or meaningless praise statements.
They just need you to be specific about how their behavior matches your expectations.


Play it Safe

Your number one house rule should be “We are Safe”. This is the one way to make sure that no one gets hurt or humiliated. This means that adults will not hurt or humiliate a child and children will follow suit. It also means that they will make choices that are safe.

Of course being safe means being in control of our bodies, our words, and our choices. Parents get to be the guardians of what is safe and unsafe and they have to stick to this number one rule as they practice a zero tolerance approach to dangerous play, unsafe decisions or harmful behavior.

Think about the things around your house and the routines in your daily schedule as you decide upon safety standards that will support this number one rule.

Use key words to show you mean what you say…” Danger!” is a great quick phrase that can let even the littlest child know that they are nearing an unsafe zone. Change the tone of your voice when you say this phrase so they can tell you mean it. Get down on their level and point to the danger item as you redirect them to another safer choice. Give them an alternate behavior to take the place of the dangerous choice.
Here is an example of what you might say…”No jumping on the couch. Danger! We can sit or lay on the couch, but we cannot jump on the couch. If we want to jump we can jump on the pile of pillows on the floor. ” Here is how we could say this same statement to an even younger child in a more clear and succinct way, “Danger! No Jump on Couch. No No. We can sit. We can lay. But no Jump. Jump on Pillows. Yes Yes. “

Practice makes perfect, so you might have to demo or role play how to play and be safe. Tell them the story of what could happen if they were unsafe. Talk to your child outside of the moment about these things because having an in depth conversation in the heat of the activity will most likely be unsuccessful.