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The Power of Praise



It is impossible to discuss the power of praise without first addressing attention. No, not your child’s ability to pay attention to you, but rather YOUR ability to attend positively and consistently to THEIR behavior.


Key Point #1

Attention is your MOST powerful secret weapon as a parent.

Your attention helps shape your child’s behavior, and so it is always important to be thinking about how your attention is influencing your child’s actions.  

  • Do you pay attention mostly when they misbehave? 

  • Can you remember the last time you thanked your child for good behavior? 

We are often quick to attend to negative behaviors in children, and it is easy for the bad behavior to overshadow the good. At these moments, it becomes especially difficult to praise the small, but good, behaviors.  However, that is when it becomes most important.


Key Point #2

Any attention is “good” attention in a child’s eyes.


Although children generally do not enjoy being yelled at, for kids, ANY attention is better than no attention from their parents or caregivers.  

Especially in today’s busy world, when parents often work long hours, or are involved in many activities and organizations, or are distracted by cell phones and after hours emails, kids crave any type of attention that the can get from their parents.



UP the praise!!!                                                


Again, kids thrive on the attention of their parents!  They love you and want to make you proud.  If a parent’s attention is directed to a child primarily during times of misbehavior, that behavior is inadvertently being reinforced.

At these times, the parent-child relationship is strained, and negative feelings toward each other can result.

Being aware of and recognizing this potential is step one.  And, a great next step in preventing these negative feelings and misbehavior is to UP THE PRAISE! 



Key Point #3

In order to change a child’s problem behavior, one must increase the value of performing good behavior through praise.


Praise is the “currency” of children!  The rich payoff!  No matter how much a child likes new toys, they desire the praise and attention of their parents more.  

Most parents have children who do not have intense negative behavior problems, and it might be easy to forget to praise the “normal, acceptable behaviors.” 

Always remember how much your child wants your praise and attention and how lack of praise can be devastating to a child. It can even lead to misbehavior and attention-seeking behaviors. 


Praise can be both verbal and non-verbal.


We often think of praise as a simple “Great Job!” It’s easy to forget that it comes in a variety of forms.  For example…

        Verbal                                                                       Non-Verbal

“Good job on….”                                                             Smiling

“I love it when you….”                                                    Winking

“It makes Mommy/Daddy so happy when…”                Placing a hand on a shoulder

“Thank you for....”                                                          Patting their back

“Wow” or “I am so impressed that you…”                     Hugs

“I am so proud of you for…”                                          Ruffling hair in a gentle/affectionate way

“We really appreciate when you….”                              Kisses


Key Point #4

Praise is most effective when it is IMMEDIATE and SPECIFIC.


Children, especially young children, will be most affected by praise when you give the praise as close to the good behavior as possible.  

Children of all ages, however, benefit from parents explicitly stating the behavior earning their praise. 

Try to challenge yourself to move beyond “Good Job” and “Thanks” to praising the exact behavior you are trying to increase.  For example, “Great job putting your shoes in the closet when you came in from outside. That was so helpful, because I didn’t even have to ask!”




 Praise Myths

1.    Parents sometimes fear that kids will rebel or that they will “wake the sleeping lion” by praising their child for good behavior, such as playing nicely, quietly, or without interrupting. 

That response is unlikely to occur.  Kids usually continue behaving well when they receive positive attention for good behavior.

2.    Parents worry that kids will expect praise for everything.

Although most children will always want attention from their parents (even if they don’t act like it in their teen years), they will not expect praise for brushing their teeth or for sharing forever or every time it happens.

3.    Praise eliminates all bad behavior. 

Of course not!  Don’t expect miracles, but freely giving praise will start giving your child a reason to behave in the manner desired.  It will also likely improve your parent-child relationship. 

Additional resources from; The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

If you are interested in learning more, and working one-on-one to address any specific behavior concerns that you might be having, Paige Trojanowski would welcome the opportunity to talk with you.  Simply call your home office to schedule an appointment with Paige for your child.  She is in the Chantilly Office on Mondays, and in the Patriot Square Office on Tuesdays.  Each counseling session with Paige costs $75.
Posted: 9/3/2019 10:24:10 AM by Jenae Grader | with 0 comments

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