Put a Bib on It

Praise Worthy


Children aren't just "cute." Praising their efforts, versus just their personality, builds real confidence.Mind in the Making suggests that we praise a child’s “effort and strategies, not his or her personality.” It occurred to me recently that I praise Ev’s personality a lot and not so much his effort. Naturally, I think he is one of the smartest and cutest 2-year-olds I have ever come in contact with, which is saying something since I work in early childhood.  Telling him how cute and smart I think he is just pops out of my mouth every time he says or does something cute or smart.

Then I started thinking about what I do say when Ev has met a challenge, whether he is struggling or working it out. If he is doing something seemingly dangerous, like climbing up into his chair at dinner, I tell him to be careful and eventually try to help. This actually takes a lot of effort on Ev’s part and I really should be praising that. When Ev is struggling with something, like putting a puzzle back together, I offer suggestions and then praise him when he is finished, or when we are finished if it takes my help.

I want to make a conscious effort to be more intentional in the way I comment on Ev’s accomplishments (and failures), so there are a few things I want to work on.

I will be more specific when giving Ev praise, for example, “Wow, Ev you just made that tower stand all by itself.”

I will work on asking questions to extend Ev’s thinking even further when he says something brilliant, like when he told his dad and I that birds live in nests with eggs. Instead of making googly eyes at my husband because I was so impressed, I could ask Ev where he might find a nest or what is in an egg.

I will also trust Ev more and in his abilities. When he is doing something that makes me worried he might get hurt, I will resist jumping in. I will make sure I am very close and available to kiss any boo-boos and give some tender loving care, but allow Ev to make some mistakes and take a stumble or two.

Lastly, I will work hard to decrease the amount of times I tell him he is cute and smart. I can’t promise that I will completely stop doing that because I know that’s a promise I’ll break. Because he just is so cute and smart.

3 thoughts on “Praise Worthy

  1. Good points all. I am encouraged to reframe my thinking. If I let fear get in the way, as I all too frequently do, it’s easy to become the “fun police”, intervening in a challenge before it even gets interesting to him(her). That makes it impossible to praise the effort! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Thank you kp. 🙂

  3. I hope you continue to tell US how cute and smart he is. You gotta tell someone, right?

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