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Self-Esteem Building: How to Praise and Support Your Child Correctly

All children would like to be praised by their parents. But how to do it correctly by increasing their motivation, and what is most important how to help them in a strong self-esteem building? The main idea of every praise is giving support, an inner sense of value. When we praise a child by saying” You are so good” we should think about how to turn it into loud and proud” I’m just that good“. It must strongly sound inside and not be a question in the eyes of children and adults. The praise of the parents should not become a “milestone” for self-esteem. It’s important to remember that both rewards and punishments decrease motivation from the long-term perspective.

Self-esteem cannot “rise from the outside”

All stickers, gifts, ratings, praise, likes – have a temporary effect. And create an addiction. The child/adult does not have stable confidence in their strengths, talents, competence and as a result, each time should learn again to “aссept” the achievements.

At the 2-4 age, the child learns to say I, Mine, No – all these simple words are, in fact, “words of power” ​​that help to define the boundaries of personality and build self-esteem.

Where I start and end, what I can influence, where I belong, and what belongs to me. If at this age the parents will not support/praise their children properly, the power of the inner self-esteem “I can” will replace by –  “AND MY ….” (iPhone, clothes from …., my children are the best in school …).

It is very important to give the child an opportunity to feel its strength. And did not grow up with the messages like “There’s no “i” in “team”, “modesty – adorns a person”, “just sit tight and keep your mouth shut”.  If the attention of a child was paid more to its failure than to “achievements”, in adulthood it can be difficult for such person not only to write a resume but also to present an idea or project, demonstrate competence and feel confident. Even performing great feats, even creating unique products, and demonstrate completely unique qualities, it can be difficult to believe in it and take success with dignity.

Perfectly if the action and the result especially pleasure from it (drawing, skill, action, school grade) becomes a joy and a “reward” itself.

Toddlers are still focused on receiving action rewards. Stickers, for example, reinforce their efforts. But it is very important for us to focus our attention on the “inner result” first of all.

Often we can see that our praise like”well done” or “you are so clever” is not encouraging or help in self-esteem building.

The basic principle is that we do not just say the word “well done” or “clever”, but focus on the results/achievements we praise. It gives a sense of the significance, the tangibility of what has been done. Much more efficient to use not the general praise but sincere support focusing on what exactly “we support”, it is important for us to name what we see as most valuable.

Let’s see the example of how we should and how we shouldn’t do

Child: I painted beautifully?

Praise: What a talented (beautiful) drawing!

Support: such bright colors! In the picture, the sun, the rainbow, and the windows in the house are visible, and it looks like a dog on the street! Do you like painting? – It is clearly visible.

When the child feels “support” – it begins to talk about what else was drown, what was difficult, what it is going to do further. When we praise, there is a feeling of some dissatisfaction, or the Child may suddenly resist the praise.

Child: I got “A” in math today.

Praise: you are our genius!

Support: you did so much!! (you are interested in mathematics, you did all the tasks, and what was the most difficult?)

Praise: good boy, you put on tights yourself!

Support: you figured it out yourself completely without help and put it on! I didn’t even notice how quickly you did it.

Praise: you are a born writer! You write essays the best!

Support: when I read your essay, I seemed to see and hear everything you describe, and the sound of the stream, and the rustle of the wind in the trees, and saw people – the words were chosen so precisely and beautifully. This is how the writers do.

If we admit the achievements of the child and then say BUT, it devalues ​​everything that was said earlier and does not raise self-esteem.

Examples of how you can replace “BUT” sentences in communication with children and use the support option instead:

You did such a good job!  But not carefully.

Support option: all the numbers/letters on the page are like slender trees in the forest. But these ones seem to be tilted by the wind. And here – a puddle after the rain?

You picked up toys, well done! But you could have done it faster.

Support option – oh! The toys were collected at the speed of a superhero athlete! A few more minutes and there would be a new world record.

When you say “thanks” to a person admit as well for what exactly you are grateful for. It will definitely sound more sincere and significant.

Source: “The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills” by Jesse Singal.

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