Alright, I admit the title sounds a bit far out there.
But this easy parenting tip I’m sharing with you today is one that many of your peers may not be doing.
In this article, I’m going to show you a scientifcally tested parenting tip that will make both you and your child happy and competent, both now and in the future.
The Secret Parenting Tip Revealed: Special Praise
How Is Special Praise Going to Help Me Outsmart My Peers?
I know, outsmarting your peers isn’t the point.
You probably chose to read this article because you, like me, want to be a better parent.
But you may feel good knowing that you’ve got an inside tip you can share with your peers 🙂
Using this tip, which I call special praise, will help you outsmart your peers because it’s not our natural tendency to use special praise!
If you’re like me, I loved it when my kids behaved (they’re older now, in young adulthood), and I was annoyed when they didn’t.
Where do we end up, many times, spending our time and attention?
We spend our time arguing with our kids about getting ready in the morning, getting off the iPad, getting ready for bed, doing their homework. Or we’re tearing our hair out trying to get them to stop fighting with their siblings, or getting them to do their chores.
But this time and attention, along with our lecturing, begging, threatening, and punishment, is often wasted time.
A Bonus Parenting Tip: The Positive Opposite
Before I even start talking about special praise, which is the parenting tip you want to practice, I’m going to share a bonus tip.
Yep, you’re getting two tips for the price of one!
Instead of focusing on all the things you’re frustrated with you child about, here’s what I want you to do.
Think about the most annoying behavior of all of them.
For example, let’s say you’re most frustrated with your child not listening to you in the morning when it’s time to get ready for school.
He plays with his electronics or toys, ignores you when you tell him to get ready, and then screams and yells, maybe even throws a few things when you raise your voice.
Here’s what to do instead.
Back off from your frustration, anger, and hopelessness, and ask yourself the question, “What’s the positive opposite of this behavior?”
The positive opposite, in this case, is that your child listens to you and does what is asked without screaming or yelling.
Write this positive opposite out on a piece of paper and put it where you can see it.
Like on the refrigerator, and on the bathroom mirror!
This is the behavior you’re going to pay attention to from now on!
Now, let’s go on to talk about special praise.
What Is Special Praise?
I am going to give credit where credit is due.
Lest I be accused of plagiarism, I’m admitting that this article is based on material from Dr. Kaszdin.
This easy parenting tip comes from Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, a Yale University psychology professor and director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic.
(This video reviews and explains in depth all the points from this article. It’s Dr. Kazdin himself! Enjoy!)
Special praise is different than general praise.
We all love general praise. “Way to go! Great Job!”
That’s what general praise is.
Special praise, however, is different.
It’s targeted, specific, and done in a unique way.
When you use special praise correctly, you’ll see the powerful and positive effects fairly quickly.
What’s So Great About Special Praise?
In other words, “What’s in this for me?”
Here’s what’s so great about special praise.
First, it is easy to do! You’ll love it and your child will love it.
Second, it’s useful for building the positive behaviors (remember the positive opposite) that you want to see in your child.
Special praise “locks in” the positive behaviors you’re building in your child.special praise “locks in” the positive behaviors you’re building in your child.
Third, you’ll start to see results quickly when you use special praise often.
How To Give Special Praise Effectively
1. Select a behavior (the positive opposite) that you want to praise.
Remember, from our example of the Positive Opposite above, is that your child listens to you and does what is asked without screaming or yelling.
2. Praise effusively – Use effusive praise with kids all the way up to 10 years of age.
Use an excited tone of voice and smile a lot 🙂
3. Be specific! State exactly what your child did that was great – “You did x, y, and z”
Example: “Wow, John, you listened to me and picked up your toys the first time I asked! Great job!”
4. Add a gentle touch, a hug, or give a high five.
This is a critical piece of special praise.
Of course, take your child’s temperament or sensitivities into consideration with this part of special praise.
If your child has sensory sesitivities such that he doesn’t like touch, just give an “air high five”.
But most kids love touch and thrive on it.
Cautions and Considerations About Special Praise
- Don’t give general praise. General praise does’t tell your child exactly what behavior your are praising.
- Do not praise the person (e.g., “You are really a good boy (because you did this behavior) – you want them to know you love him unconditionally).
- Do not make affection behavior based – again, you want to show warmth, kindness, and love to your child all the time, not just when he or she is behaving.
- Don’t focus on yourself (e.g., “You make mommy/daddy very happy when you do x,y, or z “- You dont’ want your child to think that his or her behavior determines whether you are happy or not. You’re an adult, and your child is not responsible for how you feel).
- Don’t Caboose – A caboose goes on the end of a train. Think of a caboose on your special praise as adding something on that undermines, “Great! You picked up your toys, why can’t you always do that, why do I have to nag you? Why can’t you be like your sister?”
Frequently Asked Questions About This Parenting Tip
- “Will I always have to praise my child for this behavior?” No, you won’t! The good news is that, if done well, you will lock in your child’s behavior in the short -term with this special praise. The behavior will then become a long-term habit that you don’t have to praise.
- Will I spoil my child by giving him special praise? No, you won’t! No child can have too much praise! We all need it. Have you ever worried that your boss will spoil you by giving you too many compliments? Nope! Like flowers need water and sunlight, so we humans need praise and human warmth.
- “Why do I need to do give special praise at all, especially if my child’s sister/brother obeys without needing special praise?” All of us vary greatly in our temperaments and neurology. Studies have shown that even twins are very different in personality and temperaments.
A Note To You, The Parent: Building a House and Playing A Guitar
You see two analogies in the subheading above.
First, can you build a house with only one tool?
You need a hammer for nails, a brush for painting, a screwdriver for screws, and so forth.
Special praise is just one parenting tip to help you get better results with your child.
If you really want to build a great parenting toolbox, please, please, please, do this.
It’s easiest if you download the Coursera app (search for it in iTunes or Google Play Store), because the platform offers videos, transcripts, and worksheets you can easily access on your phone.
I’m going through this course myself, and it’s what inspired me to write this article.
Second, learning any skill and building any skill takes Time, Practice, Persistence, and Patience
If you child decides to play the guitar, what are you going to do?
If you kow how to play the guitar, and you have the time, you’re going to spend time teaching him.
Or, if you don’t know how to play the guitar, you’re going to spend money and sign him up for guitar lessons.
You’ll expect him to go to his lesson and to practice, practice, practice.
Expect the same thing from yourself!
Think of effective parenting skills as learning to play the guitar.
You’ll need to take the time to practice. Not just once, not just twice, but a LOT.
So…..take time to practice giving your child special praise!
If you don’t see your child’s behavior changing right away, don’t give up!
You don’t give up on guitar lessons just because your child doesn’t know how to play after one session, right?
In the same way, practice, practice, practice giving special praise.
Watch The Video!
This video reviews and explains in depth all the points from this article. It’s Dr. Kazdin himself! Enjoy!
Don’t feel alone on your parenting journey!
Call me at 847.571.0274 to talk for a 15 minute strategy session.
I’ll listen to you and we can decide whether you’d like to meet for an initial session for you and your child to get to know me.
Or you may contact me via the form below. Please keep your message fairly general, so that you can protect your privacy and speak more specifically when we talk via phone.