To those acquainted with our previous episodes on discipline (you can find them here and here), it will come as no surprise that we do not consider praise to be its opposite.  Rather, we consider discipline and praise to be part of the same whole.  If the goal of discipline is to teach children to become more effective problem-solvers, or to guide them toward more healthy, productive decisions and behaviors, then praise could be seen as the recognition that those goals have been met.  In each case, parents are leaning into their children’s innate desire to learn, and providing specific, meaningful feedback that inspires confidence and engenders growth.  With discipline, we’re encouraging children to find the right path, with praise, we’re empowering them to continue down it.

In this episode of ParentTalk, Arthur Lavin and Susan Glaser discuss precisely what this process looks like in everyday scenarios, and provide guidance to parents interested in strengthening both the power of their own praise, and the bonds that positive affirmations can create between their children and themselves.

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“There’s nothing wrong with ‘good job,’ but it’s so often overused that the child can think of it as the parent not listening.  I’m reminded of one of my favorite stories.  It was at a preschool and I had just given a workshop to teachers about the overuse of ‘good job’ or ‘that’s lovely,’ these generic kinds of platitudes.  That very afternoon a little boy had done a really great painting at the easel and a teacher said, ‘wouldn’t you like to take this home and show your mom?’ And he said, ‘what’s the use? She’ll just say ‘it’s beautiful.’”

– Susan Glaser

Episode Highlights:

– Creating genuine and effective praise.

– Moving beyond “good job.”  Making praise specific and meaningful.

– The dangers of overpraising.

– Finding the details that make praise resonant.

– Making praise about the child, not the parent.

– Focusing on the effort over the outcome.