Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Is Praise Good Discipline?

"I read in a few different places that you should praise for the good things a child does even if it's the little things. I guess the overall idea is that if a child doesn't get a lot of attention he will act out or be naughty to get attention."

This parent's concern came to my office recently. First, I prefer the word "compliment" or "acknowledge" when commenting on a child's good behavior. It is appropriate to recognize and compliment a child for cooperation, etc. Children repeat the behaviors that bring them attention. So to successfully guide a child's behavior, point out what's right and you'll see more of it.

However, some people overdue a good thing! You can over-compliment a child to the nth degree where he becomes what I call a "compliment junky." He's so hooked on what you say that he needs outward affirmation to behave.

In your daily discipline, frequently (not always) acknowledge what your child is doing right. This is what psychologists call "random reward" and it's very effective.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.
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Jane Balvanz said...

Good post, Brenda! I like authentic praise - praise that comes as spontaneously for your child as it would for a friend or coworker. It's very natural. I agree that praise is WAY overdone sometimes. Children come to disregard or even mistrust it when it's status quo. Some depend too much on praise and do not trust their own accomplishments without it.
As a play therapist, I use neutral talk such as "you did that just the way you wanted" or "you did it!" Children then get no clue from me whether I approve or disapprove, and learn to value and trust their own judgment.

Jane Balvanz
A Way Through, LLC

Lori said...

I agree. I think I way over complimented my first child. It seemed for awhile that's all she wanted, and if I complimented one of the other children, she'd say things like, "Well, what about me," or "Did I do good too?" I think I've got her to understand that just because I don't always give her compliments that she isn't doing it right. I do tell my children that they are good kids frequently.

Parenting Expert Brenda Nixon said...

Thanks for your comments Jane & Lori. You both share great insights. As parents, we're always learning; just like in any other profession.