Is There a Connection Between Praise and Behavior? - Kumon

Is There a Connection Between Praise and Behavior?

The Kumon Program encourages parents to praise their children daily. There are several benefits to praising your children. Praise is linked to an increase in positive behavior, self-esteem and confidence in children. Praise also increases intrinsic motivation, which is the desire to participate in an activity solely for the pleasure of participating. This means less struggling with your children to get their homework from school and Kumon completed.

Here are three important tips that can be used when giving praise:

  1. Descriptive praise vs. non-descriptive praise. Descriptive praise compliments children’s behavior instead of the children themselves. By using descriptive praise such as “Very clear and neat handwriting!” your child is more likely to repeat this specific behavior. Descriptive praise goes further than non-descriptive praise such as “Good job” or “Keep up the good work.”  Non-descriptive praise can become background noise to students who are focused on their worksheets.
  2. Differentiate between praise and encouragement. What is the difference between the two?  Encouragement is a form of praise while not all praise is encouragement. Praise focuses on behavior while encouragement focuses on the effort put forth.  “You have worked very hard on this math packet,” or “Let me see how fast you can complete your math packet,” are examples of encouragement. This type of reinforcement motivates your children to continue to try hard in the future. The emphasis is placed on the effort not the task.
  3. Provide the just right amount of praise. Overpraising students can sometimes be more harmful than helpful. When praise isn’t given, it can be interpreted by the students as doing a poor job. One way to avoid this dependency is to praise your children early for positive behavior, like starting their Kumon homework without being told. When your children begin to show the desired behavior frequently, you can praise less often for it.

Practice these techniques at home, and watch as your children’s self-esteem and independence increases. Remember, not all techniques work the same for all students. Different students are motivated by different things, so try multiple approaches and see what works best for your children.

What type of praise have you used with your child?