A toddler who is self-confident and who thinks highly of his own abilities has a more enjoyable time at whatever he does. He likes playing (because he doesn’t worry about tackling new toys), he has fun with his friends (because he’s confident they like him), and he’s relaxed at home (because he knows everyone in his family accepts him).
One of the best ways to boost your toddler’s self-confidence is through praise. In addition, your positive response to his actions gives him a strong incentive to try even harder next time. Praise is a powerful type of reward and you need to make sure that your toddler has earned your positive remarks. If the standard you praise is too low, he won’t try so hard the next time.
When to praise
The best time to use positive feedback is when he has behaved in a way that you regard as positive. For instance, you’ll probably praise him when he learns a new skill such as opening a door, completing a puzzle or drawing within the lines on a picture. Your favourable comments at that moment prove you’re interested in him and highlight his achievements. Praise truly has a powerful emotional effect.
Try not to over-praise
Of course praise is a good thing, but you need to be careful as it can lose its impact if you reward him for tasks that aren’t difficult. For instance, when he’s tearful because he’s painted a bad picture, you may feel so sorry for him that you tell him his picture is the best you’ve ever seen.
Yes, it’s true, reassuring him when he’s unsuccessful ensures that he doesn’t grow to fear failure. However, excessive praise when it really isn’t justified lulls your toddler into a false sense of his own capabilities. Think of other phrases, like ‘That was fun painting today, wasn’t it?’. Remember that your toddler doesn’t need to have made huge strides in order for you to talk positively about him and he doesn’t need a world of praise to know you approve and love him.
When your toddler’s winding you up, it’s easy to slip into the pattern of reprimanding him regularly throughout the day. However, highlighting good behaviour is often more effective than focusing on his negative actions. When your toddler misbehaves, rather than tell him where he’s gone wrong, wait until he behaves positively, then give him lots of praise.
Praise phrases to use with your tot:
- “Thanks for helping me” Praising him for his help and relating it to your needs means he’s more likely to repeat this behaviour in the future.
- “Your sister liked that very much” No matter how much they bicker, his sibling’s approval matters too.
- “What you did was amazing!” Your enthusiasm for your toddler’s success increases its importance for him and makes him feel special.
- “I love you” Lets him know that you care for him and reassures him even when he might not have had total success at something.
- “I can see you did your best” Helps him understand that trying hard matters, so even when he doesn’t succeed it means he’ll be more likely to try again another time.