A little praise is good but don’t over do it!
Continually saying, “Well-done” to your child even when they haven’t done anything in a game can have the reverse affect. If we over-praise our players, it sends a message that they can’t trust us to be honest. If kids do a bad job on something, they know it, they’re not stupid. If we say it is great just to make them feel better, it just makes them feel worse.
So when praising, make it relevant and don’t over do it. When we over-praise, we take away the motivation to make them try harder. I don’t need to try harder my coach thinks I’m doing great. The fact is you can never stop improving, players should be looking to get better. When praising we need to be realistic to the real world. In your working life you generally only get praise for exceptional work not for day to day expectations. So just like sweets, a small amount is ok but too much can be harmful.
“If you constantly praise your child, she might come to need and expect your approval, rather than learning to gauge success for herself, according to the University of Minnesota Extension office. Children who are addicted to praise become insecure and anxious if they don’t receive accolades for every positive success.”
Kids need challenges to make them feel good about themselves. They need to feel the experience of working hard to accomplish something and the pride that goes along with it. That is what increases their self-esteem. So, as a coach and/or parent, what types of praise works best with kids?
How to Praise
Firstly honesty is the best policy. Kids will appreciate it if you give them honest feedback. If it is not their best work, encourage them to go back and improve it or ask them to evaluate it. Now, let’s be clear here –we are judging honestly based on developmental ability and effort. With the younger ages with need to be a little more flexible. If a three-year-old works hard on something (a picture) and does a good job for him, praise is certainly appropriate, even if doesn’t quite look like the item they are drawing.
Be specific. “Well done!” doesn’t go nearly as far as “You played really well today, your passing, movement, work rate was the best I’ve seen this season. Keep up the great work, you are doing for the team.” Kids love it when you notice something they did well and play it back for them.
When a child does something well, praise is a powerful tool. One of the most powerful motivating actions you can use is the pat on the back. Coach John Wooden said, “Yes, occasionally the pat must be a little lower and a little harder, but too often parents neglect the praise. They are quick to criticise and slow to commend”
When praise is effective, kids know that it is deserved. They know that they have worked hard and done well. And when praise is deserved, it makes them feel really good. And that is motivation to work even harder the next time. So next time, praise effort and hard work, and be specific in your praise.
Forget the notion that you are responsible for nurturing your child’s self-esteem through constant praise and reassurance. Kids are strong, capable and determined in their own right, and rarely need adults to convince them of their worth.
Instead, give your child freedom to make mistakes and try new things, allow them to discover on their own. You can work together on certain things, since real effort is one of the most effective ways to increase self-esteem. The best thing is to offer sincere, specific praise rather than making vague generalisations so sometimes, a wink, pat on the back, thumbs up or even just a quick squeeze conveys a lot more than words. Sometimes simply saying the words, ‘I Love Watching You Play’ can be all the child needs.
The most important thing to remember is the game belongs to them, so let them take control of their experience and don’t keep offering an opinion. The sooner you release your child to his/her game, the quicker they take responsibility of it. Even continually shouting his/her name can be very distracting and actually take their focus away from the game, so when you say less this can help them more. Sometimes silence (just being present) is the greatest help of all.
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