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  • Karena Lee

3 Ways to Praise your Child (or Partner!)


When I first learned about the power of praise I didn’t yet have a little one of my own, so I had to try out these new skills on my partner. Before getting to practice, I shared with my spouse a brief overview of the new skills I was learning as a Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) therapist-in-training. While he was aware of the “practice” I was doing at home, it appeared we both enjoyed the skills that made communication between partners more satisfying, even if designed for parents and their children.


There are many ways to praise. For simplicity, I’ll put them in three categories: labeled, unlabeled, and non-verbal. A variety is key for older children and adults and it’s also more natural. Labeled praises seem to be most effective since they can make the receiver feel the warm fuzzies in a specific way and can teach little ones which behaviors you would like them to repeat.


What is a labeled praise?


A labeled praise is a praise that is specific and tells the receiver exactly what it is that you appreciate about their attribute, product, choice, behavior, etc.


Why use labeled praises?


· Makes both people in the interaction feel good

· Increases the desired behavior

· Models pro-social behavior

· Can increase receiver’s use of praise


What are some examples?


· “Thank you for taking out the trash.”

· “I’m impressed by your fantastic ideas in our dress-up game.”

· “Good idea to make the fort using the sheets.”


What is an unlabeled praise?


An unlabeled praise is a praise that is more general statement of approval.


Why use unlabeled praises?


· Quick way to show approval

· Adds warmth to a relationship

· Models pro-social interactions


What are some examples?


· “Thank you.”

· “Good job.”

· “Amazing!”


What is a non-verbal praise?


A non-verbal praise, like the two other variations, shows approval or affection, but with a gesture or body language.


Why use non-verbal praises?


· Adds variety to expressing approval

· Adds warmth to a relationship and may meet a different need (e.g. physical touch)


What are some examples?


· High five

· Hug

· Thumbs up

· Smile

· Enthusiastic nod



As previously mentioned, using a variety of different types of praises will likely create the best interactions. Reading the individual needs of the receiver should also be considered.


Admittedly, my partner does consistently take out the trash without reminders (aka, nagging) and I’m thrilled the praised behavior continues. More importantly, I continue to praise him for taking out the trash and he praises me for behaviors he is appreciative of, and we both feel positively about our interactions. It generally feels good to give and receive praise. If you would like to learn more about PCIT services and get coaching with your child, book a consultation today! Thank you, reader, for making it to the end of this post.

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