ENCOURAGE THE EFFORT RATHER THAN PRAISE THE PRODUCT!
Why not praise?
Praise feels good. It feels good to impress others. However, if other's approval is what you base your worth on, then how will you feel when their feedback is not praise? Using this value system you will find that when your work project is criticized you will no longer find value in the focus, hard work, and research you contributed to the project, but on the fact that others were not pleased. This can lead to anxiety, anger, hurt, and possibly depression, just to name a few.
THIS IS TRUE FOR OUR CHILDREN TOO!
Whether it is a finger painting, building with blocks, or writing a story, with only one negative word all that focus and effort from the child can become obsolete and possibly discouraged. This is because in a society with a focus on praise a child's self worth becomes based on what OTHERS think. The direct opposite of praise is an insult. This is terrifying, especially considering the nature of school's and social media for our children.
Let's break this down and look at praise and encouragement:
Praise: Self Worth becomes dependent on OTHERS positive and negative comments. This allows an individual's confidence to waver with every negative feedback they receive and bolster with the praise. This is an emotionally exhausting way to live life and does not allow an individual to value their abilities. This can lead to someone constantly changing themselves and their personality to match the praise or insults they have heard (is the word teenager popping in your mind right about now?).
Encouragement: Acknowledges the individual's effort and the focus is about placing value on their own efforts and thoughts. A child that is encouraged does not rely on others praise and comments to determine their self worth. This allows children to have confidence in themselves, recognize their effort, and learn from their mistakes.
Encouraging statements: "You worked hard on that!" "You are working hard to get that done." "That's a rough one, but I bet you will figure it out." "Thanks, that was a big help." "You knew exactly which colors you wanted to use!" "You like your block tower!" "You know how to count!" ("You know how to" reflects the child's ability and does not make a judgement).
All of these statements take the focus away from others opinions and reminds the child that they worked hard, they like what they did, they can trust themselves, and they know how to do it. If they like their purple dragon with brown spots then does it really matter if you think it is pretty or not? Not one bit!
Challenge: Take notice of how often you praise your child, spouse, or peers. After a couple days try to use encouraging responses instead of praise! Sometimes switching away from praise can throw others off! Stay strong and stick to encouragement. Besides, if someone is thrown off by encouragement then it may mean they were already to reliant on others opinions! Note in your journal your experience with using encouragement over praise.
Tip: Think about it this way. A 6 year old loves her blocks. She spent over an hour building a block city with towers, sidewalks, and bridges. She kept moving things around and tweaking her city until it was exactly how she wanted it. She was being creative and relying on her own opinions and design to form this perfect city. Her friend walks in and says that blocks are dumb and the city looks bad. A 6 year old with a value system based on others opinions would be looking for praise. When she receives negative feedback she no longer loves or feels proud of her city. She knocks her blocks over and doesn't play with them again. A 6 year old with a value system based on encouragement and determining her own self worth may roll her eyes and not feel good about what her friend said BUT she keeps on building.
This one can be tough! Don't beat yourself up about your responses and just continue to add in more encouraging responses.
YOU GOT THIS!!