The Benefits of Constructive Praise

The Benefits of Constructive Praise

So much better than 'empty praise'

Constructive praise and encouragement vs ‘empty praise’.

We often use praise because it’s quick and easy. You can throw out a ‘good job!’ or a similar phrase without having to analyse the situation, and this is the problem with it. It’s overused and has lost it’s meaning in our world. Everyone is ‘great!’

On the other hand – encouragement takes a lot more thought and more words but, it helps children to see what they have done. Encouragement helps children want to do better for themselves, not just for pleasing adults.

When you say, “good job,” “beautiful painting,” or “great performance” to a child, the comments become “white noise,” or empty words with little meaning - eventually platitudes not even heard. Praising your child expansively not only devalues the praise, but also prevents him/her from actually knowing what doing a “good job” means.

Praising in glowing terms - especially if it comes after less-than-perfect behaviour or performance -can actually send a message that he or she doesn’t need to try harder to improve.

Children who don’t receive a ‘good job’ or ‘well done’ may come to feel they’re entitled to praise no matter what they do. They start to believe that they can coast along, assuming credit will come anyway. When it doesn’t, they will be unprepared to cope.

Furthermore, when you praise a child who is not doing as well as she could, she ultimately learns to believe she doesn’t have to do better to be accepted. She can coast or feel entitled, expecting that everything should be coming her way whether she strives for her best or not. 

You cheat the child when compliments are hollow.

Constructive praise (encouragement) with specifics and emphasis on performance encourages a child to strive and work harder. Encouragement is effective because it: a) allows you to select a characteristic or behaviour you want to develop or foster in a positive and constructive way, and b) lets you call attention to the process

Here are 6 tips on using words of encouragement for kids effectively.

  1. Praise sincerely and honestly. ...
  2. Be specific and descriptive. ...
  3. Praise effort and the process, not ability. ...
  4. Avoid controlling or conditional praise. ...
  5. Avoid comparison praise. ...
  6. Avoid easy-task praise or over-praise.


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Cargilfield where everyday is an adventure

Welcome to Cargilfield! We hope this short film gives you a glimpse of what life is like for the girls and boys at our school. We would love to welcome you in person to tour Cargilfield and explain more fully exactly what makes a Cargilfield education so special and so different. Please get in touch with Fiona Craig, our Registrar if you would like to find out more; her email address is [email protected] or you can telephone her on 0131 336 2207.

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