Encouragement for a child’s effort and persistence can be more powerful than praise. Here’s why:

Praise
  • Communicates external approval
  • Focuses on parent/teacher’s thoughts and opinions
  • Is evaluative and judgmental
  • Is only given when child has done well
  • Can train child to depend on constant feedback regarding what a “great job” they are doing
  • May jeopardizes the child’s ability to develop their internal compass to guide the decision-making process

Examples of praise:
“Great job”, “That is wonderful.”

Encouragement
  • Gives specific positive feedback like, “You erased your work and are trying again,” or, “You used your words with an inside voice.”
  • Is non-evaluative and non-judgmental
  • Focuses on the child’s thoughts and opinions
  • Can be given at anytime
  • Helps promote self-esteem and a sense of well-being, confidence, insight, and resilience

Examples of encouragement:
“You must be proud of yourself”, “I see a child that won’t give up”, “Now that is what I call responsibility.”

Next time your child or student does something great, consider the differences between praise and encouragement.

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©2016, The Episcopal Center for Children
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