Self-esteem is a funny thing. You can’t see it, but you can sense it. You can feel it but you can't touch it. It is vital to both child and adult. And as a Dad, the way you handle praise and reward will be vital in assuring that you raise children with great self-esteem.
That self-esteem will give them the confidence to take on challenges. It will make them a little bit more fearless and a whole lot more self-assured and less inclined to worry when things go wrong. The self-assured should be able to pick themselves up sooner. They will be more determined to have another go. They will be more likely to be successful, well-rounded individuals.
Praise Comes In Many Forms
Praise can be about telling someone they are wonderful. But in itself that has little meaning. For praise to be significant, it needs to be specific and about something. Of course you can say to a small child that they are wonderful - you can say just about anything, but if you overuse praise it will cease to matter.
Linking the praise to specific things, endows it with meaning and value. Saying that you really like they way they handle something or perform a task, shows that you are interested. It shows that what the child is doing matters to you, and that it is important to them.
Praising a strength in a child helps to elevate their status. This is not simply about creating a super child, however. It is about defining how your child is achieving and growing. This can be a great boost if a young person feels that they are failing or lacking in another area.
Everyone wants to have something that they shine at. Praising a strength is like having yourself filled with a glowing self-confidence. You have something no one else can take away. Of course, praise can be about specific significant achievements. Recognising this is our duty as parents. Pay attention here; the dad that misses the jump or the moment, may not be too popular!
Encouragement Is All About The Effort
Encouragement is the real active ingredient that makes all the difference. Unlike achievement, the effort is something that is not always recognised. The child that plods to last or second last in the cross country run could have put in more effort than the actual winner. It can be difficult to pin down sometimes.
An older child might have tried hard and failed in a test. The effort is still there and in fact recognising that may be as important as praising the straight A student. Try to encourage the things that you witness or appreciate. A particularly good way is of encouraging behaviour is to ask to be shown something that your child can do particularly well. It can be a vital way to boost self-esteem and find confidence.
Rewards For Well Done
These are the results and consequences of good behaviour and it doesn't matter if we are one year old or one hundred, we all love and respond to them. There are a zillion ways to reward achievement in whatever form. Think about the trophies and medals that we hand out for all manner of achievements including sports. But a trophy or a cup is a significant achievement. It is the ultimate reward. Praise in itself can be a reward but a medal or ribbon is something that we can hold onto as a wonderful reminder of our success.
With an incentive, the hard work and the rewards are all ahead of us. These can be a great way of motivating children to study, or train or change behaviour. If punishment is the last resort, then incentive should be the place that we come to first.
Let’s face it, grown adults love them just as much. An incentive could be a general objective of feeling good. Equally it could be a specific thing linked to the situation and the child you are hoping to encourage. You might have to be firm until the objective is achieved. Just about everybody will hope for more by doing as little as possible!
Having said that, getting the reward at the end of the game is an uplifting and character building moment. It is the best thing we can do for our children and their self-esteem. So is it worth it? Every single step of the way. The rewards are life affirming, fun loving, confident and capable young people.
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