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.