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How can I motivate my child?

December 21, 2012

Here’s a great idea…

In his book, Between Parent and Child, Haim G. Ginott says,

“The single most important rule [about praise] is that it deal only with children’s efforts and accomplishments, not with their character and personality” (p. 32). 

In other words…

When children do something that is commendable, we naturally want to encourage them. There are good ways and poor ways of doing that. Unhelpful praise includes statements like: “You’re such a good child!” and “You’re so talented!” This makes children uncomfortable – just as when someone over-praises us. We know our limits and feel anxious when someone expects us to be outstanding at anything.

Helpful praise – sometimes called encouragement – focuses on the child’s efforts and the effects of those efforts. Helpful statements might include: “Thank you for your help.” “You worked really hard at that!” “How did you come up with such a fresh idea?” When praise focuses on the effort put forth by children, they are much more likely to try increasingly difficult tasks.

Here’s how you can use this idea to have a better life…

Look for ways to praise your child’s efforts. Minimize your comments about his or her ability. When children know that their efforts are noticed and appreciated, they will be more confident and more eager to try difficult tasks.

To find out more…

about parenting, check out The Parenting Journey or See the World Through My Eyes programs at, follow us at or contact your local county Extension agent. You might also enjoy reading Between Parent and Child.

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