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Mendo Lake Family Life

Incorporating Praise of the Positive

Oct 20, 2011 12:00AM

Praising children is an important parenting practice. It helps to focus on the exact behavior that is praiseworthy as opposed to saying something like "You're a good boy" or "You're a good girl." This is an important emphasis as it helps the child know exactly what of his or her actions are of value to their parents. The seven components of this praise method (behavior-specific praise) are:

  1. Looking at the child.
  2. Moving close physically.
  3. Smiling.
  4. Saying lots of nice things to the child.
  5. Praising the behavior, not the child.
  6. Showing physical affection.
  7. Praising immediately after the child engages in the behavior.

This method works with positive child behaviors such as proper table manners, hanging up clothes, cleaning the dishes, brushing teeth, making the bed, being polite such as saying "please" and "thank you."  Use this method as often as possible for even the smallest improvements. Being appreciative of children can make parent-child relations more rewarding, and bring out more of those actions that parents want to see.


Kerby T. Alvy, Ph.D. is a clinical child psychologist and the Executive Director and Founder of the Center for the Improvement of Child Caring (CICC).