Discussion: Praising Your Child for His Efforts and Achievements

Haiti-Observateur 14-21 juin 2017

By Rosie Bourget

All humans like to be praised, appreciated and recognized on some level.  Praise is one of our deepest cravings, for we can never get enough. Compliments have the power to change behavior because they make the recipient feel needed and valued. Human beings have a psychological need for attention. We want praise so we can feel admired, and we want recognition to satisfy our need for personal worth.

Just as all supervisors should praise their staff and give them big bonuses for a job well done, proactive parents and caregivers who are responsible for the well-being of their children should commend them for their accomplishments. Children who are praised for their efforts and achievements persist with tasks longer. Praise can have a powerful effect on your child. Acknowledging his efforts and achievements can boost his self-confidence and help motivate him to keep trying hard and looking for effective strategies to overcome his challenges.

Not all praise is created equal

It may be that not all forms of praise are harmful. Research has shown that different types of praise have different effects on children. Distinctions have been made between person praise and process praise.

While Person praise on one hand evaluates a child’s traits, like his intelligence. Person praise evaluates a child globally, telling her that she is good or smart or outstanding. Examples of this kind of praise include, « You’re a good girl », « You’re so good at this », or « I’m very proud of you ». Studies have shown that person praise reduces motivation, focuses students on their performance and encourages them to compare their performance with that of others.

On the other hand process praise is related to the child’s effort, and focuses on his or her behavior and actual « work » or output. Examples of process praise include « you tried really hard » or « I see how carefully you are building that tower. » Process praise has been shown to encourage children to develop a flexible mindset, confront their weaknesses, and take on challenges

Praise the effort, rather than the intelligence

Effort-based praise emphasizes what your child can control, such as how much time he/she spends on a project or which strategies he/she uses. That’s why effort-based praise like “I am so impressed at how hard you worked on your science project” is more empowering than “Wow, you’re good at science.”

Reasons to use effort-based praise

Kids with learning and attention issues need to be reminded that the process of working toward a goal is just as important as reaching the goal. Your child may need to try several different strategies before he successfully completes a task. That’s yet another reason why it’s a good idea to use effort-based praise. Look for opportunities to compliment the way your child is approaching a task rather than placing all your emphasis on the end result, which may not turn out how he had hoped. Effort-based praise lets you tell your child you value not only him, but also his willingness to take risks and his determination to work toward his goals. For example, let’s say your child’s goal is to get to school on time. There are smaller steps along the way: waking up, brushing his teeth, getting dressed and having his backpack ready. By recognizing the steps your child does well, you can help him see that he is capable of reaching the overall goal. You can also show him he can achieve it through effort and planning.

When children are praised for their efforts or achievements, taught the value of working hard when dealing with academic challenges, this encourages them to sustain their motivation, performance and self-esteem. To summarize this article, and practice what I am preaching, on her High School graduation, shouldn’t I acknowledge my daughter Sarah for her efforts as she enters the new battlefields of life, and wishing her to find her own star and reach for it?

You Made It


By Rosie Bourget


Dedicated to my daughter Sarah


I’m not surprised of your achievement

I’m just impressed you made it with contentment

Unsure of the path you’d go,

I thought you were going to let go.


You have proven that it was not a lack of interest

It was a matter of what’s in your best interest

I’ve been there for you every step of the way

I’ve seen the will that you carried all the way.


Bullying, name calling, still you didn’t give in

You’ve been down, and you’ve been in

But I never had a doubt despite all

You wouldn’t make it through it all.


Yes, you made it through it all

And I salute your effort even if it’s small.

Best wishes for your next adventure

Blessings and prayers for your future.

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