Effective Praise

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Where to begin

The skill of Effective Praise can be a game changer in your family! Effective Praise focuses on praising your child for what they are doing right, no matter how small. Effective Praise can increase your child’s positive behaviors while decreasing negative behaviors. Effective Praise also builds confidence and creates greater family harmony.

Here is a list of things to do when learning the skill of Effective Praise.

1. Watch the Effective Praise skills video and become familiar with the steps.

2. Print out the steps of Effective Praise and place them somewhere you’ll see it for easy reference.

3. Visit the Fun Activities section and choose a game or activity that you think will be successful with your children as you implement the skill.

4. During a neutral time, use the steps of Effective Communication to talk about the skill of Effective Praise. Show the Effective Praise skills video and discuss how you are going to try to increase your praise and ask for their help.

5. Begin practicing using the skill of Effective Praise. Start with something small. It can be hard at the beginning to remember to praise. Don’t give up. Keep going! We promise it’s worth it!

Suggestions for parents when using this skill

Remain calm and beware of your limits.

Give yourself some slack. It’s going to take a while before praising becomes natural. Remember to praise yourself for the change you are making, even if it’s small!

Start small. Begin by praising those things that come easy/naturally and then move onto more difficult situations.

As you begin to praise your children more frequently, you’ll notice that using the skill has a trickle effect as your children will begin to use the skill too.

Download the steps of Effective Praise and hang it somewhere it is visible for easy reference.

Help, Activities, and Testimonials

Praise and Effective Praise are not the same thing. Most parents give their child general praise but using the the steps of Effective Praise helps children better understand what they are doing well and encourages them to continue that behavior by giving them specific praise. There has been a lot of discussion about praising children and some have discussed the negative effects general praise has on children, however, it should be said that when used correctly, effectively praising your children is a necessary tool for successful parents and children.

Below are three articles from leading authorities on parenting about praise and how praise can be beneficial.

Parenting Science

Parenting Science: The effects of praise and what science has to say

This article is a wonderful outline to help parents understand how effective praise is beneficial for children.

Web MD

Web MD: The right way to praise your child

Web MD also supports the idea that praising your children is necessary, but it focuses on being sure that praise is done correctly. This article supports Smarter Parenting’s approach that the quality of how you praise that is more important than the quantity of praise. The Smarter Parenting Effective Praise lesson helps you understand how general praise is very different than Effective Praise.

Hanen Center

The Hanen Center: Is praising your child a good idea

This article appears initially to refute the effectiveness of praise. It focuses on some of the damaging effects of praising too often and for trivial things which is why it is included in this list. However, it also covers what things make praise effective.

For more information on Effective Praise, please contact us.

Using games and activities is a great way to track your progress when learning the skill of Effective Praise. Here are some of our favorite! All labels can be downloaded in the helpful resource section below.

Kitchen Timer Reminder

Set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes. Every time the kitchen timer rings, think about your child’s positive behavior during that 15 minutes and praise them for their appropriate behavior. Repeat.

Materials needed: a timer

Reward Jar

smarter parenting Pick one behavior you would like your child to do more often. For example: go to bed on time, do chores without complaining, not talk back, etc. On popsicle sticks (or pieces of paper) write down rewards that would be meaningful to your child. For example: stay up later 10 minutes, have extra computer time, get a hug, etc. Put the rewards in the jar. When you praise your child for their positive behavior, you child gets to pick a reward.


Materials needed: jar, popsicle sticks. reward jar labels

Marble Jar

Every time you praise your child, they get to put a marble in the jar. When the jar is full, the family gets a reward. Possible rewards could include: going out to dinner, getting ice cream, going swimming or to a sporting events, or a family movie or game night.


Materials needed: jar, marbles, marble jar labels

Warm Fuzzies

smarter parentingThis one gets the whole family involved and encourages your child to use Effective Praise on other members of the family. Anytime a family member uses Effective Praise to praise another family member, they get to put a warm fuzzy in the jar. Once the jar is full, the entire family gets a reward. Possible rewards could include: going out to dinner, getting ice cream, going swimming or to a sporting events, or a family movie or game night.


Download the free Warm Fuzzies jar labels here

Praise beads

This game works especially well on younger children. Determine a behavior you want your child to change. Using the skill of Effective Communication, talk to your child about the new positive behavior you want from them. Each time they do that positive behavior and you praise them for it, they get a bead on their pipe cleaner. When the pipe cleaner is full, your child gets a predetermined reward.


Materials: piper cleaners or strings, beads

Post-it Notes
This simple idea helps remind you to praise. Using a different post-it note color for each family, write down a general praise statement. General praise statements are things like, “wow”, “good job”, way to go, I’m so proud of you. Place these post it notes in visible spots around the house. Using the general praise statement, you will then add specifics when they do something right. For example, your general praise statement may be “way to go” and it’s placed on the mirror of the bathroom. Then using this reminder you would say, “way to go putting away your toothbrush after you’ve brushed your teeth. When you put it away, I don’t have to interrupt you when your playing your game to have you put it away.” You can also use these praise statements to help your children practice the skill of Effective Praise. When they come across a statement, have them do the same thing in regards to another family member and something positive they see. This helps them learn how to praise by pointing out the positive and coupling that with motivating factors as to why.

Materials need: post-it notes, pen or marker

Eric and Sylvia

Eric and Sylvia share how Effective Praise transformed their child and their relationship with their child.

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