How Should We Praise Young Children?

Building Blocks Therapy Centre’s

How Should We Praise Young Children?

By Alaa Alkaadi

Praise is a great way to boost children’s self esteem. ‘Good boy/girl!’ is a common everyday praise we use and we sometimes do it without even noticing. However research indicates that different forms of praise have different effects of children.

Lauren Lowry (SLP & Clinical writer) distinguishes between 2 forms of praise:

  1. Person Praise: praise which evaluates a child’s traits ‘clever boy/girl’
  1. Process Praise: praise related to a child’s efforts, ‘I see how slowly your rolling your dough’ or ‘you spent a lot of time working on that, what do we have here?’ In turn this initiates conversation and the child is able to discuss and understand why they are getting praised.


Lowry argues that Process Praise has shown to encourage children to develop and confront their weaknesses as opposed to Person Praise which reduces motivation and indicates to the child that the praise is due to their performance.

As parents, carers, educators and early years practitioners we must remember that the goal is not to make the child dependent on praise. However, there is an exception to this rule as it differs in regards to the context, the child and the different scenarios. Some children set different guidelines for the use of praise especially with children with communication difficulties. Often In these cases, sticker charts and reward tables are used.

The 2 key elements to praise are:

  • Your praise must be sincere: children can acknowledge when praise becomes meaningless and in return praise loses its effectiveness
  • Reduce the amount of praise: If you find that your child is naturally interested in the given activity then you do not need to use praise. Instead try to create a conversation about what they are doing and ask questions to stimulate their development.