Whenever I get sick or need rest I have a little helper.  My five year old son, Porter, always looks after me.  One time I was sick and he chose to help tuck me in and bring me things I needed.  When he did these things for me, I praised him and showed sincere appreciation.  Now, whenever I am napping or sick, my five year old son puts blankets on me and tells everyone to stay quiet.  He is so sweet.  My earlier praise made him want to always do this kind behavior.  I still praise him of course. 

Things happen every day which we take for granted.  Your child brushes his teeth without being prompted.  Your daughter soothes a younger sibling after a fall.  Your teenage son helps you bring in the groceries from the car.  We are proud of our children when they do these things, but we don’t always remember to praise them for their kindness and service.  Actually, sometimes we don’t even notice because we are expecting their good behaviors.  We take the good things for granted. 

What parents don’t remember is that praising children encourages them to choose the right much more often than correcting them does.  Also, if you praise one child all the other children in the home will mimic the good behavior to get your praise as well.  Praising is the very best way to inspire children to choose good behaviors. 

Praising Your Children To The Next Level

What I call “correction” and “praising” are what’s commonly called “negative reinforcement” and “positive reinforcement”. It is very common for parents to operate under the belief that the importance of negative reinforcement, or correction and discipline, far outweigh praise when raising children.

However, this is far from the truth. While correction has its important place, used appropriately praising has the power to shape and strengthen a child into a leader and outstanding person now and when they grow into adulthood.

In fact, for every one time a parent must correct their child, they must find ways to praise them six to ten times. Just looking at this statement it might seem that I am only talking about making a child feel better and smoothing over their feelings but this is far from the real message.

Correction Has An Important Place

I want to make it clear that negative reinforcement, or correction, is very important and must never be withheld when a child is in need of correction. Correction and discipline are necessary to show children when their actions have crossed the boundaries of what is acceptable and good. Children come to know that their actions have consequences and learn self-government to improve themselves.

The family home is a safe and loving place for your family and especially your children. It’s a safe place for them to make mistakes, as they are bound to do. You can even think of your home as a small version of the real world. In the world outside the consequences for mistakes can be dangerous or even life threatening. But in their safe home children can make mistakes that will be corrected firmly and with love so that they learn to avoid these mistakes when they are not at home.

At the same time, I want to emphasize that parents have to know when to correct their child. We need to be very watchful of how we correct and ensure that this doesn’t cross into over-criticism. It is also important to be mindful of the mistake itself – sometimes what has become a mistake started out as a child’s good intentions that turned into bad choices.

In cases like that it’s still a parent’s job to apply correction but it is also a wonderful opportunity to discuss with the child how things went wrong and the ways to make sure their good intentions turn into good choices.

Parents Can Take Correction Too Far

But where the right amount of correction is good and necessary, overdoing it is not better. Over-correcting a child, and not balancing this with a good amount of praise, is a mistake that many parents make. Continuous correction can dampen a child’s spirit and stifle their desire to do better and learn from their mistakes.

Where a child only receives negative reinforcement or correction and very little or no praise, some dangerous side effects can occur. When children learn they can only get attention by making mistakes, this can be the behavior they choose to follow to get that attention from parents or other people in their lives. A person that never receives enough positive praising in their childhood can also have problems with their self-esteem, not having learned about all of their many good qualities.

Correction used appropriately and as a teaching tool is important to a child’s upbringing and helps them learn to make better choices. However, it’s only part of the story. The other side, praising, gives parents an amazing opening to inspire a child and help them develop their good and wonderful side.

Praising Shapes The Emerging Lives Of Children

God gives children parents to provide instruction and help them improve as they grow. We are also there for our children to help them discover the unique and wonderful talents and qualities God has granted them as well as the special plan he has for them.

Children grow, learn, and find out every day about who they are and the many things they are capable of. Sometimes this not an easy journey as their identities and understanding are still forming and there are bumps and mistakes along the way. Praising gives children the confidence to stay on the right path and the self-esteem to continue to do their best. They learn to think for themselves and recognize what’s good and bad in their environment and how they can best model the good around them.

Praise Is More Than Just a Casual Compliment

For a child to really be able to recognize their good qualities, it’s important that the right kind of praise is given. The right kind of praising is not a random broad compliment that can apply to anyone.  And, it should only be given for something actually praiseworthy.

Praising by saying, “Good Job” is alright here and there, but it doesn’t inspire as much as saying, “Quinton, your room looks wonderful today.  I think you make your bed better than I do.”  A statement like this says, “That specific thing you just did was a great choice and really amazing.”  That is much more inspiring than “Good Job.” 

As I mention in my book, praise is the language of love and appreciation. It highlights the best qualities the child has inside that they have just displayed to you. The intention of the praise should be to motivate the child to continue using these wonderful qualities. This might be their maturity, talent, kindness, sensitivity, intelligence, and more.

Praise For A Change of Heart And Change At Home

You might think it’s going to be hard to find so many things to praise about your child. Indeed, if you are not used to offering praise or receiving praise it can take a bit of time to adjust. But the truth of the matter is praising is an important thing to apply to every relationship and area of your life, not just your children’s upbringing.

One of the most wonderful things you’ll discover about praise and appreciation is that once you make a small step, it starts to flow. It really is true that as you seek you shall find. To see how it works just find simple things to praise about your marriage, your garden, home, friends, or town, and so on. What ends up happening is that you appreciate these things even more, and this leads to further genuine praising.

Praising changes the mood and atmosphere in your home dramatically. It can be hard to do when you are feeling stressed or things are not feeling the way you would like them to but making a small effort can effect dramatic, positive changes.


While it’s difficult to precisely describe, you know when you have offered the kind of praising that will benefit your child the most when you can feel the warmth in your own heart. When you praise with authenticity, you are demonstrating your recognition and appreciation to the child, and also to God for putting such a beautiful person in your life.

Home should be the safest place to make mistakes.  It should also be the best place to get honest praise. 

For more free parenting tips or answers to questions visit Nicholeen’s blog http://teachingselfgovernment.com