Undue Praise

Good job! Well done! Nice work! I myself use these words often. It is something that we have all done and we will no doubt continue to do through forces of habit, but just how useful are these words? GoStrengthsOnline recommend 3 ways to praise children without using these terms and why it is so important to praise the process rather than the child. I have often, in the past, used these terms to make sure a line is straight and ready or that the children are sitting nicely and are ready to listen, but I have recently rethought how I use these words and have started attaching some context to them. As Renee Jain explains in the video, it is essential to praise the process and explain to the children why it is important to be ready and how it helps everyone in the group.

Children need something to aim for and if they are constantly bombarded with praise for even the slightest bit of effort they begin to see poor work as the standard to aim for when actually they could do a lot better. This doesn’t mean that we need to push and force children to work as hard as they can and thereby not accept substandard work, but rather we need to slightly alter the phrases we use: “good job” can become, ” I like the way you have drawn the trees, but how could you improve on that? What else could you add to make them look more real?” This kind of commentary means so much more to children as they know you have taken real notice of their work. As children grow up they become accustomed to “good job” and they realise it is more of a convenience to the adult, than an appraisal of their work.

By praising without detailed explanations children become praise junkies. The goal of a parent or educator should be to raise a child with independent creative thought. We all want to be praised to some extent, but by praising everything children begin to do things for praise rather than for their own development. They will learn to be obedient and stand straight for a little recognition, rather than to help others and to be their own individual character.

British Early Years Centre is a British International Kindergarten School in Bangkok