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Effective Praise

Giving your child specific praise is more effective than simply passing a general exclamation of approval.

Praise your child every time he does something good or something right. If children receive praise for a job well done, it encourages them to do well the next time too. But if their efforts go unnoticed they will not bother to try so hard the next time.

If you praise your child often, you will notice a dramatic improvement in your child's behaviour over time. Your child will also develop confidence, as praise imparts a healthy feeling of being loved and cared for. Despite praise having all these advantages, many parents are not as free with giving praise as they should be.

Be specific with praise

When parents praise their children, they often offer general praise. For example, if your child finishes his homework soon after returning from school instead of waiting for the last minute to do it, you will probably say something like "Great!" However, giving your child more specific praise is much more effective than simply passing a general exclamation of approval. This is what is called as Effective Praise, as coined by Ray Burke, Ph.D. and Ron Herron in their award-winning book Common Sense Parenting.

Show your satisfaction and approval to your child, and by doing so, make sure your child knows exactly what he is being praised for. If your child calls you up from a friend's house to let you know he will be getting home late, don't let such an action go unnoticed. It shows responsibility on your child's part. It also shows that your child is sensitive to your feelings, and is concerned that you don't worry. So instead of just saying something like "Good boy," say, "It is very responsible of you to call me and let me know you will be late." So instead of just calling your child a good boy, you have said that he has behaved responsibly, and you have told him why. You can be sure child will be glowing with the praise.

Show your child the positive result

Now that you have praised him specifically, you should follow up with the consequences of his action. You should say something like: "Since you have called me so responsibly, I will let you go out more, because I feel that I can trust you."

Reward your child

You could also follow up the praise with a reward once in a while. "I am so happy that you have done well at school. To show you how proud I am, I will buy you the guitar you wanted. I now know that you will continue to focus on your studies, and will not let the guitar distract you." The reward does not have to be something expensive or even something material. Perhaps your child has been wanting to visit the zoo for a long time? You could reward him with a trip to the zoo. Remember though that if you have promised a reward, don't keep it pending forever. Don't say that you will take him to the zoo the coming weekend, and then take him six months later. Even a special privilege like allowing your child to spend the night at a friend's house can be reward enough.

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