Encouragement vs Praise

Encouragement and praise are two very different ways to communicate with someone.  Encouragement is when you provide statements or points that are specific.  Phrases such as “you really worked hard” or “look at all the green you used in your painting” or “I bet you are proud that, you finished that whole puzzle by yourself”. Children who are ‘encouraged’ tend to develop a stronger self-motivation and pride in their work because the encouragement focuses on what they are doing well, not what the adult thinks about their work. 

Praise focuses more on your expectations and/or what you, as the adult think is appropriate such as “good…” and “I like…” or “you’re such a nice…” or “I love your painting”.  These statements may sound effective but children who are “praised” tend to do things to please others and not because they are motivated.

 

Praise

Encouragement

Awesome.

Acknowledgment of something specific, such as: “you washed your hands without being told to.”

Well done.

Something that emphasises what you value, such as: “you did it yourself!” Or, “you listened very carefully.”

Your picture looks nice.

Something about the details, such as, “you used lots of colours in your picture.”

I like your picture.

Something that puts the focus on the child, not you, such as, “you picked an interesting topic for this picture.”

Ummm (Hard to praise because it’s not a great job)

Focus on the effort invested, such as, “you worked really hard to clean up your mess.”

Good job!

It’s been overused…just don’t say it.  Acknowledge their accomplishments instead.

 

Specific examples of praise and encouragement.

 

Common results of praise and encouragement.

Praise

Encouragement

Can stimulate competition.

Stimulates cooperation and contribution for the good of all

Focuses on quality of performance.

Focuses on amount of effort as well as the outcome of the performance.

Evaluative and judgmental.

Little or no evaluation of person or act; person feels “accepted”

Fosters self-perception, close ended view of what they are doing.

Fosters whole picture and journey of the experience.

Emphasis on generalisations and specific actions of individuals.

Emphasis on specific contributions of the person and how they have helped reach the end result.

Fosters dependence of consistent acknowledgement from others.

Fosters self-sufficiency, independence and intrinsic motivation.

 

 

We all want to acknowledge our children’s accomplishment and also help foster and shape our children’s positive sense of well-being.  When you do give encouragement, just make sure that it is sincere, immediate, within context and most of all, ensure that you acknowledge the processes involved in the end result.

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