TOOL NUM­BER 4:

De­scribe progress

Mother & Baby (Australia) - - Cool Compliments -

One ad­van­tage of de­scrip­tive praise is that you can use it even when things aren’t go­ing par­tic­u­larly well, by point­ing out what has been achieved so far. When your child is mak­ing a mess or strug­gling with

a task, it’s tempt­ing to point out what she’s do­ing wrong. Af­ter all, won’t that help her im­prove? But the prob­lem is, crit­i­cism in the midst of a strug­gle can be dis­cour­ag­ing for a child. On the other hand, when you give in­au­then­tic praise (‘Don’t worry, you’re do­ing fine!’), this can be in­fu­ri­at­ing (‘No, I’m not!’). With de­scrip­tive praise, you can point out progress in a way that feels sup­port­ive and gen­uine. Of­ten, when you can point out one pos­i­tive thing, it is more ef­fec­tive than point­ing out 10 neg­a­tives.

And even when some­times we do need to point out what’s wrong, then it’s im­por­tant to ap­pre­ci­ate the pos­i­tive first. A good rule to fol­low is to no­tice three pos­i­tive things be­fore men­tion­ing the neg­a­tive, and put your crit­i­cism in pos­i­tive terms by talk­ing about what still needs to be done, rather than what is still wrong. So in­stead of say­ing ‘Well done tidy­ing up, but there are still blocks all over the floor’, you’re more likely to in­spire your child to carry on clear­ing if you say, ‘I see you put your cars into the box, and the trucks too. I can see a lot more car­pet! Now all this room needs is for the blocks to be tossed into their box too’.

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