Day 22: The Power of Praise

Updated: May 1, 2020

Tip #22:

After you catch your child doing something great give them sincere, immediate, and specific feedback.

Yesterday, I recommended looking for the good in your child's everyday behaviors. Today, I take it one step further: celebrate that good behavior. After you've been blown away by the goodness of your children, use praise to increase the chances of that behavior repeating itself.

More than anything else, our kids want our undivided attention and adoration. Yes, of course, they love chocolate and extra screen time, but honestly, what they crave most and what will motivate them towards desired behavior time and time again is the power of your praise. After you catch your child doing something great give them sincere, immediate, and specific feedback. Your average "Atta boy" isn't going to cut it here. I'm talking about some genuine feedback with a message impossible to miss.

Consider yourself the parent of Oliver. Oliver just remembered to rinse off his dishes and put them in the dishwasher. By some miracle, without being asked, he performed this task right before your eyes. In the fog of the dinner hour and your desperation for the day to be coming to an end, you could have missed this miracle. But, you did notice and you say: "Oliver, wow, I LOVE that you rinsed off your dishes and put them in the dishwasher all by yourself! Thank you SO MUCH for being such a great team player!"

Immediate. Sincere. Specific.

Chances are Oliver will, at the very least, smile at this recognition of his greatness. And chances are now greater that after the next meal, he'll remember this nice feeling and he'll repeat this goodness.

Sure, you could simply say: "Thanks, Oliver." or "Great job, honey." The power of praise, however, is made manifest when its message is as clear as day. Oliver can't miss the intent of the feedback about the dishes. He knows precisely what he did that solicited your enthusiastic praise and attention and, empowered with that information, he knows exactly what he can repeat to generate that same response again.

Hey fellow parents under quarantine, wow, I LOVE that you care enough about what you're doing that you're taking time to read this. I see you striving every day to do your best and I know how relentlessly hard that is to do. Thank you SO MUCH for slugging through this together!

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