June-Graduation and Effective Praise

Welcome to June!  This month, we will be celebrating the graduation of our oldest friends with a program in the Bear Room on the 8th.  Seating is limited, so please give priority to families with children in the Bear and Alligator classrooms.

We will be having our usual month dinner (hot dogs!) that, weather permitting, can be enjoyed out the black top.  Hopefully our streak of rainy Thursdays is over and we can all enjoy some sunshine!

This month, our subject


How to Avoid Creating a Praise Monster

Have you even encountered a child that was constantly asking for your approval?  “Look at my flower drawing!  Isn’t it pretty?” they might ask, over and over again as they draw.  Children naturally seek the approval of adults in their lives, which can be useful for managing their behavior in the short-term, but in the long term, we want children to be self-motivated and not constantly coming to adults to tell them they are “good”.  We want the child to draw flowers because he enjoys it and feels like he is capable of drawing them, not because an adult else is telling him that the flower is pretty.

There’s a lot of opinions out there about how (or even if!) to praise children and it can get confusing.  Here are some tips to help praise your children in a way that is less about gaining your approval and more about encouraging self-motivation:

Do it less  If your child is engrossed in activity, just leave them to it!  Don’t interrupt their concentration by telling them that you think that it’s “good”.   Your child probably already thinks that it is good and that is what’s important.

Don’t go overboard The goal is not to create children who are constantly seeking the approval of others, but children who are self-motivated.

Be specific “That is such a bright  yellow that you used for the house in your drawing!”

Point out effort without placing a value on it “You are really working hard on that puzzle!” vs. “You are doing such a good job working on that puzzle.”

Draw attention to their own feelingsYou put your socks on!  You must be really proud!”

Acknowledge the challenge Remember, tasks that are simple for adults can be very challenging for children.  “It can be really hard to put clothes on your doll, but you worked hard and you got them on!”

Compare them (positively) with themselves “You built that block tower so much taller than you did last week!”

Involve the child by asking them for their input “That’s a big block house!  How did you get that block to stay on the top?”

-Avoid using evaluative language Try avoid telling children that something they’ve done is “good” or “great”.  Instead, just comment on what they have done.  Instead of  “You made a really good painting of a tree!” try “You made a painting of a tree!

Show interest in what your child is doing Kids are pretty smart and they figure out pretty quickly that  “Mmm hmms!” and “That’s nice!” do not mean that you’re actually paying attention to what they are doing or saying.  When you can, ask them questions about what they are doing and encourage them to give their opinions.


If you’re interested, here’s some more information on praising your child.  We hope to see you on the 8th!

How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Power (and Peril) of Praise

Five Reasons to Stop Saying “Good Job!”

Stop Saying “You’re So Smart!” 3 Better Ways to Praise Your Child




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