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Catch Them Being Good

By Mara P. Paradis, M.D.

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Praising children at appropriate times is one of the most important things a parent can do. It will nourish your child's mind and self-esteem. It will also reward you, as a parent, with good behavior from your child on a more consistent basis.

When praising your children:

  • Make sure that you are genuine. Children can see through false compliments, exaggerations, and flattery. On the other hand, earning genuine praise makes children feel good.
  • After giving praise, make sure your children know exactly what they did that pleased you, so they can repeat the behavior.
  • Be sure to tell them why you think what they did was good, and how it will benefit them and others.
  • Finally, get your child to respond to your praise so you know he or she understands why you are pleased with a particular action or behavior.

There are certain times where you may want to consider adding reward as a fifth step. Rewarding your child with a special privilege when you are especially pleased with his or her behavior or when an outstanding improvement has been made in a problem area will help to ensure your child will repeat the positive behavior.