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Time to notice the good things about me

Children learn about themselves through their relationships with their parents and carers. When you praise, you are teaching your child about their worth, how to be proud of themselves and are raising their self-esteem.

I learn about myself through your eyes. If you let me know that I am loved and worthy of love, then I will believe it too. From you, I will hear what I am good at and I will believe the things that you say about me.

If you notice the behaviours and qualities that you like, love and want to see in your child, they know to be proud of these and repeat them. You can do this by:

  • Giving your child genuine praise when you see a positive behaviour, with words, a shared look, a smile, thumbs up or another gesture, a hug or positive touch.
  • Showing genuine enthusiasm when you give a compliment, smile and look at your child. Your child can tell if it’s not genuine. If you don’t feel you can be genuine in your praise, instead you could say “Tell me more about your drawing/what you have made….” and spend time learning about it. You might then find yourself saying “It’s brilliant how excited you were to make that.”
  • Letting them know what made you happy or proud, e.g. “Thank you for picking that up”. This helps your child learn what behaviour you like to see.
  • Giving your child praise when you feel proud of them or when you see a desirable behaviour. This helps your child learn what positive behaviour looks like. Reward the behaviour with attention, praise, cuddles and favourite activities.
  • Making it clear and specific to your child what you are praising. It will show you were paying attention and that you really mean it. Instead of saying “Well done” say “I loved the way you shared your doll with your sister.” Praise is more powerful when you make it clear what you are praising your child for.
  • Using your child’s name positively – “Wow, Ben, you’ve worked so hard at that! I’m impressed”. Sometimes you forget to use names in a positive way and you don’t want your child to only hear their name when they are being called in a negative way.
  • Noticing your child just for being who they are. Praise doesn’t always need to be used to encourage a certain behaviour. There is nothing better than seeing a child’s face light up when you say thank you.  For example, “Thanks for letting me play shops with you, you are such a fun person to play with”.
  • Letting your child “overhear” you talking positively about them too. “Daddy, did you know that he was really kind to his friend today when he….”
  • Noticing a child’s effort as well as the outcome e.g., “You tried so hard to put your socks on, I am really proud of you trying like that”.
  • Wanting your child to lean and grow for themselves, not by comparing themselves to others. Success doesn’t need to be competitive. Your child can be praised for who they are, without comparing them to others.
  • Praising the things they can control, change or do again rather than things that are outside of their control.
  • Thinking about your child – some children would rather a quiet comment or look, others enjoy something louder and more showy – learn what makes your child comfortable.
  • Praising works best when you give it as soon as the behaviour has happened.
  • Looking for times when your child behaves the way you want.  Tell your child why you are pleased and what you liked about their behaviour. 
  • Showing appreciation and love through words and affection. Your child will learn to talk and act based on how you talk to them and how you treat them.
  • Don’t wait for your child to do something perfectly to praise them. Praise your child for trying as well. If you praise effort, it teaches your child to keep learning and keep trying.

Giving praise also helps you build a good relationship with your child, which will make you and your child happier. Research has shown that children who are close, and have a good supportive relationship with their parents have higher self-esteem and are more successful in school and beyond.

Don’t forget to give time to praise yourself too. When you encourage yourself with positive ‘self-talk’ you are more likely to do the same for your child. For example “I’m pleased with the way I handled things. It was good I stayed calm”.

Look after yourself

Meeting up with other parents may help remind you that you're not alone. Your Family Information Service will be able to tell you what’s on in your area.

If you want to learn more about positive parenting, find out what parenting support and groups your Local Authority offer.

Family Lives offer a confidential and free helpline service for families in Wales on any aspect of parenting and family life. To speak to someone call 0808 800 2222 or visit Parenting and Family Support – Family Lives to access the live chat. 

Parent Talk Cymru (Action for Children) offer a free and confidential live chat with a parenting coach available in English and Welsh. Visit Parent Talk Cymru