How to Give Good Praise

wood letter blocksPraise can harm kids’ motivation, or support it. Here are some practical specifics of giving beneficial feedback to your child, praise that will help your child find her own motivation to learn and achieve.

  1. Supply information about what your child is doing right, and differently from before. (‘Wow! You got eight blocks stacked up!’)
  2. You can reduce a child’s motivation by monitoring him too closely (‘Not that block, try this one’), being too prescriptive (‘This is how you should do it’), or creating a climate that’s too competitive (‘Sophie got more blocks on her castle than you did’). Instead, ask the child for permission to make comments (‘Would you like my ideas?’), give him access to information about his own performance (‘See how the blocks fall down when you put the block on crookedly?’), and show him how he can monitor his own progress (‘How many did you get this time?’)
  3. Orient your feedback around the child’s goals (‘Are you trying to build a tall castle?’). If you don’t know what they are, ask, and comment only on what’s relevant to that.
  4. Use feedback to help the child become aware of her own learning process. The most important benefits of effective praise occurs when a child learns to recognize when she’s made mistakes, and figures out how to fix them.

And you may recognize that all of this applies to situations involving adults too!

Once again, thank you to Annie Murphy Paul and her Brilliant Blog!

More on this and similar topics at


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