Regardless of age, we all like to be validated for our good work, and to know that those around us truly see and appreciate our daily actions. Creating positive, praise-centric environments for children gives them a safe space to discover and embrace who they are and fortifies them with the confidence needed to face the world. Here are 5 ways to praise and affirm a child's achievements:
1. Be specific.
When you are praising behavior or achievements, name the particular action or aspect that you admire. This can be as simple as recognizing a child for sitting quietly. In fact bringing attention to small actions makes a child cognizant of and more likely to repeat this behavior in the future.
2. Praise the small steps towards larger goals.
Being recognized for the effort we are devoting to a project before it reaches (or even nears) completion keeps us motivated and energized to push through and stay the course. Praising small steps teaches children to recognize progress and reflect on where they have been and where they are going.
3. Affirm realized expectations.
Make sure to celebrate the hard work that children do to reach their goals. You can mark their achievements in small ways or with a larger inspiration celebration to showcase their work and to share it with a wider audience (family, friends or other community members).
4. Show love and demonstrate affection.
We are most comfortable being ourselves and feel the most secure when we are surrounded by those we love. Express your affection in whatever way is comfortable for you. Be genuine, sincere and make your excitement and joy obvious from the moment children enter a room.
5. Validate your child's feelings.
Often as listeners we try to impose solutions or our own opinions about an event onto whoever is expressing their feelings about a particular situation. Teach your child to embrace his feelings by being a steadfast listener. Ask questions and offer comfort and acknowledge their feelings and then work through a solution together (if feelings are negative) or jump in and share their joy (if feelings are positive). When necessary brainstorm possible courses of action to resolve any lingering negative feelings, this will allow you to gently guide towards resolution while leaving your child in the driver's seat.