There is little quite as joyful as watching your child succeed. The swelling of the heart at their triumph is real. It can be understandably difficult to contain this joy which often bubbles out with a “Good job!”
You’ve likely heard words in the Montessori world before about praise. The goal here is not to pile on but rather offer a quick reminder on the importance of your words.
There are a few things to consider when you’re praising your most precious people. First, our children want to please us. (Yes, even when it doesn’t seem to be the case… it mostly is. They want to please us.) When we explicitly praise our children, we can unintentionally condition our children to expect and perform for praise.
Instead of being internally motivated to try new things, succeed at a task, etc., their motivation becomes external. Keeping motivation internal supports our children’s creativity and drive to take (healthy!) risks. If they’re always looking to us for approval, we squelch their independence.
Also, it conditions them to expect praise for the simplest of actions. Yes, the first few times they put their socks on it’s exciting but, let’s be real, this is a life skill they should be developing. You do not need to throw a party for their every feat! Rest assured they will be pleased enough with their own accomplishment!
So, for those times when your child does look to you after accomplishing something and you want to do more than just smile…
When your young child has put on their shoes how about, “You put them on!” Or when your child shows you their drawing, “You drew that. Would you like to tell me about what you drew?” These phrases show our pleasure in their success but they pin the pleasure more closely to the pleasure they internally experience through their own accomplishment. As your child grows, your feedback can become more explicitly linked to the process the child has gone through rather than the product. “You put your shoes on!” transitions into “You worked really hard to figure out how to solve that.”(Think: growth mindset.)
Lastly, overdoing the “Good job!” strips it of it’s meaning. Our children either look for it at every turn or they dismiss it as meaningless because we use it incessantly. Save it for the time you need it. Keep its meaning intact.
Okay, one last thought because supporting concentration is so very important … please don’t interrupt your children to praise them. If they are focused, don’t break their concentration to let them know that you think they’ve done a good job. Their concentration speaks volumes about the contentment they get from their task at hand. Allow your children the pleasure of focus.
Melinda, you knocked it out of the park yet again with this set of pictures! Thank you!