Giving your child the right kind of praise

There are so many different facets to parenting, that praising children for their successes and accomplishments seem like a given. It sounds like it should be the easiest thing to do, especially since any parent would love to be able to celebrate things their child has done whether it be doing their homework, remembering their chores, or winning a prize. But praise can also lead to arrogance, and negative comments can be disheartening.

According to Michelle Macias, MD, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, “A parent’s job is to shape children’s behavior. Children consider praise a reward in itself, and praise is a way to help them learn which kinds of behaviors are acceptable, even from the earliest days.”

She also suggests offering kids ten positive comments for every negative one. Praise is often seen as enough of a reward, and provides satisfying amounts of incentive for kids to do good and to keep trying their best. And while negative comments can be hurtful, they can still help steer kids towards making better choices while also teaching them that it’s okay to make mistakes, especially if they learn from them.

Process vs. Outcome
It’s also important that parents notice what they offer praise for. Is it for behavior or innate qualities? Things like compassion, consideration, and dedication are all great qualities to have. But praising children for being smart can be tricky sometimes.

The American Psychological Association recently published a report that discussed a group of fifth graders that were asked to complete a series of math problems. Some children were given praise for being smart whereas others were given praise for their hard work. The children who were praised for their intelligence ultimately performed poorly, perhaps because they believed that their smarts would help them solve the equations without added effort. The children who were praised for their hard work performed better and proved to be more diligent and persistent in their ability to solve the math problems.

Being smart is a great quality, but focusing your praise on the process, not the outcome, can help produce a positive can-do attitude in children, regardless of other innate abilities or characteristics.

Additionally, offering praise for a child’s process can still prove to be positive if they do not achieve the result they desired. If a child is smart, and is praised for being smart but gets something wrong, they may begin to doubt their intelligence. But for children who are praised for their hard work and diligent thinking, they may be inspired to keep trying if they know the journey is ultimately worth it.

The How and the Why
Researchers claim that how you offer praise is more impactful than the words you use. For younger children, making eye contact and using their name proves to be effective, especially since marked moments like these are more likely to be remembered.

But the way in which you say things doesn’t completely trump your word choice, either. Outright negative comments are not always productive, so wording things a certain way can help inspire kids to keep trying or to explore another approach to a problem or a certain behavior. You can laud them for their ability to get certain things right, but offer help where they’re struggling while promising to let them try again at a later time.

It’s also important to keep tabs on how often you offer praise, too. Too much praise can be damaging, and over time it can lose its power. If a child hears “good job” often enough, it may not mean much of anything to them anymore. Try to be selective when it comes to certain accomplishments, but also consider picking out a specific characteristic of their accomplishment that can be focused on – instead of telling your child that you “love” every picture they draw, pick a favorite part of the drawing, whether it’s the use of color or the subject matter. Make each bit of praise count.

Overpraising, saying things like “you’re the best” or “you’re the smartest” can also be harmful as well. Parents should want their children to have a healthy sense of self-esteem, but too much can lead to arrogance and unrealistic expectations of the outside world as well.

The key is to keep self-esteem and optimism close. Encouraging kids to try harder, and applauding them for their hard work, can go a long way. There are ways you can point out areas where they can improve, but it is vital that you lend a guiding hand instead of push them in a certain direction. Keep things balanced, and pay attention to the little things.

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How and Why You Should Say NO to Your Kids

“No” may be a difficult thing for a parent to tell their child. Sometimes, it is out of frustration and exhaustion of saying “no” so many times to no avail. But other times, it can be difficult for other reasons too. Saying “no” is important though, especially since parents need to set clear boundaries for children so that they need to learn how to deal with frustration, how to cope with boundaries and expectations, and other aspects of life and behavior that will affect them as adults later on.

The Consequences

Children are constantly learning, asking questions, and pushing their boundaries. This is how they learn how to behave and when, so not setting clear boundaries can be detrimental. Saying “no” or setting limits later on may not take, and children may not have a firm grasp on concepts that should dictate their behavior, whether it is how to act in society or how to behave around others.

This may be difficult for parents with busy schedules. If you’ve exhausted your no’s, you may feel tempted to give in “just this once,” so you can relax and get on with your day. This line of thinking is understandable: not only are you tired, but you don’t want what little time you have with your children to be defined by bickering, arguing, and disappointment. However, giving in to a child’s every wish or demand can have consequences further down the road, and it can play a huge and difficult reverse effect on their sense of entitlement as well as how they interact with others.

Children who tend to get everything that they want also tend to be children who have a hard time interacting with or playing well with others. There is a certain “give and take” that they may not understand. Additionally, without any sense of delayed gratification, children may continue to have difficulties dealing with real-world problems because they are so used to getting what they want exactly when they want it.

But sometimes, simply saying “no” isn’t enough. Saying “no” and being clear about it is one thing, but it is also important for parents to understand where clarification may be necessary.

Saying “No” Without Actually Saying “No”

Sometimes, simply stating that a child cannot have or do something is enough, but many parents also understand that it can also lead to a tantrum or a constant barrage of questions. There are other ways to say “no” to something without actually saying the word, and it can help your child deal with things like waiting, delayed gratification, and simply being self-sufficient as well.

Finding an appropriate redirect is a great tactic. If a child asks for (or asks to do) one thing, you can turn them down by suggesting that they do something else instead. Choosing empowers children and makes them feel that their opinions are worth something. They will not feel ignored if they get to decide. Occupying their minds with something else is often a great distraction and can help you avoid a tantrum.

Even the use of other phrases can help, too. If you can say “maybe some other time,” or “maybe tomorrow/later,” or even simply “not today,” children may get the clarification they need to understand the “no” implied, but remain satisfied with knowing that what they want can be had or done at another time instead.

Do Not Give False Hopes

If phrases such as “not now,” “later,” etc. are used, be sure to keep your word because then it shows to your children you can’t be trusted, which can impact your relationship, and they could develop trust issues. Give a concrete period that your child can expect to have their wish granted. For example: “Not now, darling. We will buy that for your birthday.”

Respect Their Privacy

Do not embarrass your child in front of other people. Get their attention, go to a private place and clearly communicate your reasons for saying “no.” Disrespecting them in public can make your child resent you, especially if other people make fun of them. Remember, if you embarrass your child in public, they will learn to do the same to you!

Be On the Same Page

Sometimes one parent will say “no”, only to see the child go to the other parent for a “yes.” This can cause conflict between parents and create a manipulative habit in your child. Be sure to communicate with one another before answering your child. provides parenting resources and reading tips for parents of kids of all ages. Be sure to subscribe to the KD Novelties blog and share.

How To Effectively Discipline Children

One of the most difficult things that parents will need to navigate to their children is dispensing discipline. Discipline is not just a means of punishment or a system that perpetuates action and consequence. It is important that children learn to understand how to behave and why certain behaviors are deemed unacceptable or unsafe. Disciplining your child is not about punishing them but it is about teaching them how to act in society in a way that is safe as well as respectful of others.

So, how does a parent go about effectively disciplining their child?

There are several things that you should remember, but one of the most important things you should keep in mind is to be clear about the rules and be consistent with them.

First off, it is important that children understand what sort of behavior is unacceptable. In some cases, children will learn this by example whether it is through their own behavior or by watching other children, and in some cases other people in general. It is vital that you have a discussion with your child as to why something is unacceptable, whether it is throwing a tantrum, stealing, being rude, or anything else along those lines. If they understand why something is bad or unacceptable, they are more likely to listen. It is important that children have some sense of personal understanding beyond the idea that something is “bad” or undesirable. Not only is it better for them in the long run, but it can help to better ensure that the idea sticks. It also helps you create a strong sense of communication and respect with your child.

Disciplining Your Child

Once your child understands what the rules are, or what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable, it helps that you remain as consistent as possible. Sometimes, contradictions will arise as new situations and exceptions present themselves, but overall it is important that you remain as consistent as you can in order for children to retain a sense of understanding. If you’re inconsistent, then your children will not have a reasonable idea of what to expect from you or how they should ideally behave.

As a parent, it is also important that you lead by example. Children are visual learners and they often learn how to behave by mimicking the way that their parents do. If you often contradict the rules that you set for your children, not only will they not understand what the rules are but they will disregard anything you try to tell them about their behavior because of it. The way that you act around your children and others will have more of a lasting effect on them over what you say, so if you support your advice and your rules with your own behavior, children are more likely to take note and to listen.

Raising disciplined children is not going to be easy. There will be good days and bad days, and some kids will be more difficult than others. It is important that you remember the advice above, but it is also essential that you employ tactics that work best for you and your children as individuals. Setting boundaries, being clear, and remaining consistent is vital, but the ways in which you discipline your child should be appropriate to them as a person involving the situation at hand.

~ KD Novelties is a publisher of personalized children’s books and are advocates for promoting literacy in children. They share parenting resources and reading tips here on their blog.