While encouragement and approval are often made as ‘I’ statements, e.g. 'I like the way you…', or 'I think you’re doing really well', praise is often given as a label too, albeit a positive one: for example, 'That’s a great piece of writing', or 'You’re so clever!' The trouble with this kind of praise is that it’s a judgement imposed on the child by another.Children can become dependent on the reward of praise in order to feel confident, rather than feel all right about themselves just as they are. ‘If I am praised, I am worthy. If I am reprimanded, I am worthless’. Equally, people who are told they are ‘great’ or ‘clever’ may not be feeling like that inside. It may be that they feel worse. So they may not trust what is being said.For most people praise:
- sets up expectations;
- builds a dependency on the opinions of others.
- describe the behaviour, action or words - being very specific;
- make a distinction between the child and the behaviour - separate the deed from the doer.
- enhance the child’s confidence;
- encourage responsibility, self-sufficiency and independence.