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Praise vs. Encouragement

Praise VS. Encouragement “Good job” VS. “You worked really hard on that” – Creating Lifelong Learners: The Do’s and Don’ts!

It is almost naturally ingrained in us to tell children, “Good job!” or “You’re so smart!” The second you praise a child like that, their face instantly lights up and they smile! The child then wants to do more of the SAME thing to get the SAME immediate praise or reaction. But that’s the thing… they want to do the SAME thing. This type of praise may stop them from challenging themselves further or from trying new things. They may want to “stick to what they’re good at”. It felt great to get that praise, why would they want to try something new that they may fail at?

Okay okay, I know what you’re thinking… “WHAT?!?!” “Don’t praise my child??” Sounds pretty crazy right? I thought so too at first. The general rule of thumb is, praising your child will help build their self-esteem. But saying something like, “good job” focuses on the outcome rather than the process or effort the child put in. Acknowledging their efforts can help build their self-esteem and promote continuous growth.

Here at LT we recognize the power of praise and use acknowledgment instead. So what does that mean? 

  1. Describe Children’s Action
  2. Encourage Children to Describe Their Own Work
  3. Participate in Children’s Play
  4. Focus on Children’s Efforts Encourage Children To Follow One Another’s Idea and Help one Another

Check out these LT Do’s and Don’t 

Action Do Don’t
Showing you their Artwork “I see you used red and yellow and there is a circle.” “It’s beautiful!!!!”
Zipping up their coat “I see how you kept trying.” “Yay! Good job!”
Cleaning up a mess “I’m cleaning up my mess just like you are cleaning up yours.” “You’re such a great cleaner.”
Child saying, “My picture is terrible” “What makes you feel that way?” “Tell me about that.” “Oh no, it’s fantastic!”
Child trying to use glue and saying, “I can’t do it!!” “I see how your friend got theirs to stick, maybe your friend can help show you how to get yours to stick.” “You’re not using it right, I’ll do it for you.”

This isn’t an easy task, children run up to me 50 times a day saying, “Look at this!” Or “See what I did?” Wanting and begging for that immediate praise. I still catch myself going to say, “good job!” But the proof is in the pudding… our HighScope Curriculum and their research has taught us that acknowledging efforts and describing children’s actions helps promote children’s

  1. Overall view of themselves
  2. Openness to constructive guidance
  3. Ability to self-evaluate
  4. Motivation to pursue  more difficult or challenging tasks

If that’s not promoting children’s self-esteem I don’t know what is! We at LT try our best to promote lifelong learners and we do this by allowing the children to make choices, make mistakes, live it, learn it, and be supported through it! This process makes the children excited to learn and to try new things… And that makes me excited to be a teacher!

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