How to praise and provide feedback to your kids?

How to raise a confident child?

Parents are often conflicted on how they should praise their kids. You praise too much and you risk your child becoming obnoxious and over-confident. You praise too little, you come off as cold, aloof and unloving. Is there a way out of it? There is but it isn’t easy.

For most parents, raising a self-assured child is likely to be an utmost priority. How can we make sure that we are giving the right dosage of praises to our children to help them build their self-confidence?

For Readers that only have 5 mins:

This infographic will give you a big picture perspective of the guide.

Step 1: Figure out the competence level of your child.

This is the most crucial step. Assessing the competence level will make sure that your encouragement will provide your child the most needed support.

You have to clearly distinguish if your child is at the beginner stage or intermediate moving to advanced stage.

We will take learning a new language as an example as adults like you and me would be better able to relate to the learning process as well.

Step 2: Apply the right approach

1. Praise more when starting something new

It is common to have lots of self-doubts and a low self esteem when we are starting something new. If that is the case for your children, then you need to appreciate their intelligence. Give them the assurance that they are doing just fine and they are capable at attempting it.

The learning roadmap is not linear. Most of the time, I find that I have to put in an insatiable amount of effort at the onset with no visible results or yield. However, after that initial threshold is hit, I will miraculously see myself mastering the new skills or knowledge with less effort. This could be the law of increasing return at work. I have observed this when I started learning how to code, cook and smatter a few words in a new language at the age of 25 year old. Therefore, without sufficient encouragement and self-belief, most people will give up before they hit the threshold where they will start to reap the results.

Once the child is more comfortable and confident in that subject, shift the praises and criticism from the person to the process to prevent complacency from setting in.

2. Praise the Process, not the Child

When a child encounters statements like “you are so smart” or “you are naturally talented at this”, he or she might become a little too self-assured. This approach may still be recommended for kids with lower self-esteem. However, if your kids are okay on the self-esteem part, they might perform better if you praise their effort with statements like “You really put in a lot of effort on this, proud of you!” or “you are a hard-worker.”

Praising their ability to work hard rather than praising their intelligence builds up their resilience. Kids are more inclined to press on when confronted with more demanding subjects. In contrast, lavishing praises on the child’s intelligence may lead to the manifestation of thoughts like “Boy! I am smart and if I don’t get this then the problem is wrong, not me. I am beyond reproach!”. Such attitude will only breed contempt and complacency.

Focusing on the process can also help boost the self-confidence of the children, especially when giving them constructive feedback. When Mahatma Gandhi said “Hate the crime, not the criminal”, perhaps, this was what he was hinting at – segregate the person from the process. Doing so, even the negative feedback is going to hurt less as the child will believe that he or she has the power to improve.

Nail the process, not the intelligence of your kids.

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