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In praise of praise

I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of my day thinking about kids and talking about kids, with other moms and with nannies. And one thing’s been on my mind lately – praise. I’ve decided you can never praise a kid too much. Think about this: you and I are adults. We know how the world works (more or less); we know the rules. Kids don’t. They’re making their way in a strange and mystifying place that operates by principles they don’t yet understand. So they make mistakes. And when they do, they feel it deeply. Much more deeply than you or I would. Kids can be very hard on themselves. Furthermore, they know how much they’ve got to learn. That’s why they look up so much to us cool, confident adults who can handle anything (If they only knew…).

Add all this up, and it starts to explain why you can never praise a kid too much. They focus so much on what they can’t do that they need lots of praise for what they can do. Buttoning a shirt for the first time, helping put away dishes, getting dirty clothes into the laundry basket – no victory is too small to praise. And even when they fail, praise them for trying. “You kept trying; you didn’t give up. That’s what counts.”

Self-confidence is an amazing thing. If you think you can do something, sooner or later you will do it. So, whether you’re a parent or a nanny, praise those kids! There’s nothing else that’s so easy to do and will pay such big dividends.

Until next time…


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