Using praise and reward with children
- Encourage self-confidence and motivation
Children aren’t born naughty or well-behaved. They need to learn about the world around them and how to behave and respond. They do this by watching others. And by learning from the reactions that they get. Positive behaviour in children grows with praise and reward.
When children get attention for doing something, they are more likely to do it again. So it’s really important to pay attention to the things we want to see more of - and not just the behaviour we want to stop! For instance, you could say, “Great job putting away the toys the first time I asked”.
Praise and encouragement can support positive self-image and confidence, self-motivation and self-belief. All of those things make it more likely that children will go on to master new skills.
It also helps when children are trying and learning new things. Recognising their efforts helps them stick to a difficult task. When we have someone else cheering us on we want to keep trying.
Children seek any kind of attention. Sometimes unwanted behaviour is their way of getting your attention, even though it’s not positive!
The idea of using praise and reward to encourage positive behaviour sounds simple enough, but lots of things can make it tricky.
- If there’s more than one adult in the family, it’s not always easy to agree on how to notice and encourage effort.
- It can be hard to separate rewards and punishments. And it can be tempting to use praise and rewards to get your child to do something against their wishes.
- Some children find it hard to accept praise. They may feel undeserving, or afraid that they won’t be able to achieve it again.
- Sometimes if we are stressed or depressed, it’s very hard to see things that are praiseworthy. It may be helpful to speak to your GP or the pastoral team at school to get some support.
Remember that children develop at different rates. You know your own child best and what is reasonable given their age and stage of development.
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