It’s only natural for children to seek out situations where they feel confident, competent, independent, and autonomous. As discussed in the previous podcast, many children turn to video games to help fulfill these needs. Parents can counter the positives children receive from playing video games by using Effective Praise.
Effective Praise can increase your connection with your child as it teaches you how to validate the good things your child is doing. When children feel approved by their parents, it increases their confidence, competence, independence, and autonomy, and strengthens the emotional bond you have with them.
Getting praise signals to your child, “Hey, my parents are proud of me. My parents see what I’m doing well. I like it when they notice it. I want to keep doing this so they continue.”
As that bond strengthens, the benefits will be that your child listens to you more. They will spend more time with you. They will seek out your advice.
We can’t stress how important giving Effective Praise is. This podcast covers how to give it.
One of the steps of Effective Praise requires parents to give their children a reason why they should continue the positive behavior. This step is hard for many parents. Most of us, when giving a reason to behave a certain way, give a reason that’s meaningful to them and not always to the person they are talking to.
When parents are able to give their child a meaningful reason, they are more likely to repeat the behavior as they feel like they are getting something out behaving that way. It can take some trial and error to figure out the things that are important to your child. If you’re struggling to figure out what is motivating your child, look at how they spend their free time or money. Those tend to be things that matter to them.
This podcast will be so insightful in helping you create a better bond with your child.
This is podcast episode 96.
We welcome you to the ADHD Smarter Parenting Podcast. Here to heal and elevate lives is your Parenting Coach, Siope Kinikini.
Hello, my friends. How are you? I hope you’re doing well. I am doing fantastic, and I’m super excited today to continue our discussion on Effective Praise. So if you haven’t listened to the previous podcast, I highly recommend you go back and take a listen to it. Because we will be referring a lot to what we discussed previously in the podcast, specifically, in regards to the intervention that I was working with Karen and Bill with their son, Jeremy, who’s 14-years-old, who struggles with video game addiction. I mean, this is a very common thing for a lot of parents these days, and ways that they can intervene with their child in positive and interactive ways that would not shut the child off to their communication, and create more tension in the home. If you haven’t listened to that podcast, jump back, take a listen to it, because we talk about them replicating what it is that video games do, and understanding why video games are so enticing to children and so addictive to children.
So we’re going to take a review. I’m going to talk a little bit about what happened before as a refresher for those of you who have listened last week and so you can be up to date on what we’re discussing. But in this particular podcast, I want to focus on how to provide Effective Praise in special, nuanced ways that will make it even more powerful. So I’ve given you the steps to Effective Praise, I told you how to do it. Now, I’m going to teach you some things that you should take into consideration when you are giving Effective Praise to your child. And I’m also going to talk to you about the most difficult part of Effective Praise for most parents, which is giving a meaningful reason, that’s step number three. So, giving a meaningful reason that is meaningful to your child and not to you. That’s what we’ll cover in this podcast.
So let me go ahead and start by just doing a refresher. During the last podcast, we were discussing Bill and Karen and their son, Jeremy, who’s 14-years-old. And they had contacted me about issues regarding Jeremy possibly being addicted to video games. And during the last podcast, I discussed how video games are structured in a very specific way. Video games are a psychological trap for children and for adults because video games are all psychology. You’ve probably heard something like this before, but you would be surprised how much money and effort is spent in creating a video game, and the psychology behind creating a video game. There are certain components that make video games engaging, and some of those include building trust. Building confidence in the player. Competence in the player. They feel like they’re mastering an action. It creates autonomy. I mean, all of these things are things that children crave as they grow older because they want to form independence.
So, video games help to answer these psychological needs. Which is why when a child begins to play a video game, they’re starting to get some of these emotional needs, these psychological needs met through the video game. Whether it be through earning coins, or earning more swag in the game, these things become very real psychologically to your child. And I should actually say that this happens to adults too. There’s a certain satisfaction in accomplishing a task, and then confirming that you have mastery over the task.
So we’re competing, or Bill and Karen are competing with this whole psychological structure that has been set apart to really direct a child’s attention to stay inside a video game. Now, I’m not anti-video games; I’m not. In fact, I find enjoyment in playing some video games. However, I understand that video games are structured in such a way to keep me stuck, and I set very specific limits, and I know exactly how the game is played, and because I know how it’s played, I know what to watch for, and I set my own limits to those things.
So, I’m not saying get rid of your video games, but for parents, it is very important for you to understand the psychological dynamics that are involved when children are playing video games, and that because there are so engaged in this process, when you come in and interrupt that process, it could be very jarring for your child. It could be very difficult for them to pull themselves out of that and then to go and do a chore, which doesn’t provide them with the same things that video games may provide them, as far as psychological validation. So keep that in mind.
I’m providing this as information to you, so you as a parent, can really move forward. As I mentioned before with Bill and Karen, we focused on Effective Praise, because Effective Praise is a skill that provides the same type of validation, psychological validation to your child that a video game does, but in a different way. And that is that we provide it in real-time with emotional connection because you are living in the real world with your child. So it’s not about clicks and coins, and these neat, shiny objects that they’re finding on a screen, it’s actually engagement with you.
So, as I mentioned before, video games are meant to build trust. It helps to build confidence in their ability to move around in the game. It confirms mastery of an action every time they complete a small task, they’re rewarded for it, right? It also encourages competence because they feel like, “Hey, I can do this over and over.” And then autonomy, which is, “Hey, I’m independent, and I can do things on my own.” So that’s what video games feed, and Effective Praise also feeds this because when you are praising your child, it does build trust. It builds trust that you trust them to be able to do that again because they did it well the first time.
It builds confidence because by you expressing it with Effective Praise, you are, in turn, helping your child understand, “Hey, I have confidence that you can do this, and you have confidence you can do this, because you’ve done it. You’ve absolutely done it.” It confirms mastery of an action because you’re Effectively Praising your child when they do something well, and when they do something well, and we bring a spotlight to it, it helps your child feel like, “Hey, I can do this, because I’ve mastered it already.” It builds autonomy because Effective Praise is all focused on helping the child do this specific task on their own, and to be able to recognize when they’re able to do it on their own. And it helps to build competence, their ability to complying to complete the task at hand.
So as Bill and Karen, and Jeremy, we went through the steps, and I’m going to share the steps so you can understand what they are again. The first one is to show approval or find something positive. The second is to describe the positive behavior, and that is being very descriptive of what they’ve done well. The third step is to give a meaningful reason. So you’re going to give a meaningful reason to encourage them to do it again and again. For step number three, which we’ll go into a little bit later in this podcast, giving a meaningful reason has to be meaningful for your child, and not for you. This is one of the hardest steps for most parents because we tend to think what is beneficial to us? What is important to us, or what is important to the family, rather than what is important to my child? And then fourth, an optional reward to help reinforce that type of behavior.
This is what we’re working on with Bill and Karen. Now, during our whole intervention with Bill and Karen, and discussing using Effective Praise with Jeremy, we started to talk about how that should look and what it should look like, and we Role-played it. So I’m going to talk now about praising nuances. These are things that you should consider when you are praising your child or giving Effective Praise to your child. One of the things that is most important to keep in mind is that when you’re Effectively Praising your child, you want to be sure that you’re using an appropriate voice tone. So you don’t want to sound sarcastic; you want to be sincere. You want to be specific, and you want to be clear.
So your voice tone and the way that you communicate with your child the good that they’ve done is going to be very important, and if you are able to praise your child with the same style, voice tone, volume, and the way that you communicate consistently say for multiple things, you kind of have a way of giving Effective Praise to your child, pretty soon, that tone of voice is going to be associated to your child as, “Hey, my parents are proud of me.”
Now, you’re probably wondering, how does that work? Well, think about video games. We’re going to go back to how video games do it. Video games will have shiny objects, but they also have tones, or they also have sound effects that triggers certain emotive responses. So there’s a video game that I’m playing, and when you win, you hear a ding, a bell, which is like a congratulation. Well, consistently hearing that bell over and over and over again, you kind of tune it out after a while, but yet when I hear that, there is almost this emotional connection to the sound of that.
So in praising nuances, ways that Bill and Karen can apply this with Jeremy is being very aware of their voice tone, of their volume when they’re communicating Effective Praise with their child. That’s going to be very important, and if they can continually do it, in the same way, every time they Effectively Praise their child, pretty soon, that tone of voice and that way of communicating is going to trigger these positive emotions with their child. So that’s one way that you can use Effective Praise, the nuances.
So let me give you an example of what that sounds like, okay? So let’s say I walked in and Jeremy is playing his video game, and I ask him for him to pause the game so we can talk, and he does, right? So what I would do, is I would show approval, and I would find the positive and then describe the behavior. Those are the first two steps of Effective Praise. I would show approval, “Thank you, Jeremy. Thank you for pausing your video game, and taking a look at me so we can communicate.” That’s it. Nothing really flowery or huge, but by doing those two, I showed approval, found a positive, I described the positive behavior, he paused the video game. Now, the tone of voice that I used, calm, steady, it wasn’t rushed in any way. It was very deliberate.
So being aware of how you communicate things is going to be very important when you’re using Effective Praise, specifically with children that struggle and that there’s tension between you. So be consistent. Every time you give Effective Praise, just turn a knob on your head that says, “I’m giving Effective Praise, and this is how I’m going to do it. This is the voice tone I’ll do it in. This is the volume I’m going to do it in.”
In addition to praising nuances, or nuances to what you can do physically, is the study of proxemics, which is the study of your spacial location. So in addition to being aware of your voice tone of your volume, you want to be aware of how far away you are from your child and the position your body is in with your child. Now, when you are praising your child, you absolutely want to be looking at them, okay? Do not give Effective Praise looking out wherever, and not paying attention to your child. It is very important for you to focus in on your child and to decide, “What is a good close space that I can be with my child that is comfortable for both of us?” You need to ask yourself that question. Right?
Now, in addition to proxemics, you have to ask yourself, “Is it better for me to be at eye level, or is it better for me to be standing up, or sitting down, or where that should be?” The recommendation has always been to be at eye level if you possibly can. You want to be at eye level to show mutual respect, and that you are communicating mutually about this, Effective Praising them for the positive things that they’re able to do. So keep in mind proxemics, super important. There’s a whole science behind proxemics, and proxemics is your position in relation to something else. You want to be aware of where is your position?
Now, when you’re Effectively Praising your child, you can choose where you’re going to be when you Effectively Praise your child. My recommendation for Bill and Karen, because Jeremy is so enraptured in video games, is to call his attention, have him do the positive behavior, and then move in front of the television where he’s playing his video game, to keep his attention, because sometimes he would look up, sometimes he wouldn’t. However, if they were to go and stand in front, physically create this barrier between the video game and their son, it’s a more positive interaction for them, and it draws Jeremy into what’s happening with them.
So a whole psychological science behind this idea of creating a space between you and your child, and wherein relation you should be with your child. I recommended for Bill and Karen to move themselves once they made a request, and he complied, to move themselves in front of the television set, to break that off visually and psychologically. And then to also communicate with him that way, Effectively Praise him. So they are replacing the praise and the adoration that he’s getting from the video game, with his parents being in the same space, doing the same things. Okay? Stand in front of the television set, praise him. Be at eye level. Be sure he’s paying attention to you. Be sure the voice tone is right.
And for Karen, because Karen is close to Jeremy and they are emotionally connected, my recommendation with Karen, as far as proxemics, was to be closer to Jeremy, and when praise was happening, to give him a light touch. And that touch itself is reinforcing for children. Most children like touch. There are some children on spectrums that do not like touch at all. However, with Jeremy, this would be a reinforcer. So in a way, it’s a reward, and it’s a way for them to make a connection. And I recommended that Karen move in closer, and while they’re communicating with him eye-to-eye, that Karen will place her hand on his arm or just tap him on the shoulder, but to choose one of those places consistently, every time they Effectively Praise him for positive behavior. Again, what we’re doing is pretty much what video games do. The video game doesn’t touch the child, but we’re creating these ways of communicating with your child that are consistent. That builds trust. That builds confidence. That builds competence. That confirms the mastery of an action. Okay?
So let’s take the same example. You walk in. You ask Jeremy to pause the game so you can communicate with him. Then you move yourself. I asked Bill and Karen to move themselves in front of the television, go down to eye contact, and then to have Karen close by where she can put her arm on his shoulder while they’re giving Effective Praise, describing the positive behavior. So Karen’s just lightly tapping his shoulder, or holding his shoulder and saying, “Thank you. Thank you for pausing the video game, and for communicating with us.” That is a powerhouse interaction right there. I want you to think about that powerhouse interaction between the parents and the child because this brings communication and a rush of emotions, and connections, and mutual respect to what’s happening between a parent and a child.
So, this is only going through the first two steps of the skill of the Effective Praise. So, you want to be aware of all these things, okay? You want to be aware of all of these things. Where are you in the room when you Effectively Praise your child? Where can I be more strategically, in order to give Effective Praise to my child? I want my child to absorb this positive vibe as much as possible because I want him to know that I am proud of what he’s able to accomplish, even though it may be small.
During the last podcast, we talked about Bill having to find even small things to praise his son for. Absolutely, find small things to praise for, and then build from there, because this is a marathon people. Just like video games start at a certain level, and it’s usually a basic level, you start to build mastery over time. So, start small if you have to start small. Find something small to praise, and then build from there until you can increase to bigger things that they’re able to do on their own. Super, super powerful. We’ve only covered the two steps to Effective Praise. So be aware of that, be aware of your voice tone, be aware of the volume that you’re using to communicate with your child. Be aware of all those things. Where you’re located in the room. All those things are very, very important.
So, let’s talk about the last part of what I want you to consider when you are working through Effective Praise with your child, and that is giving a meaningful reason that is focused on your child. This is the hardest thing for a lot of parents to do, because we’re so wrapped up in what’s happening in our lives that we tend to only see it through our eyes, whereas our children only see things through their eyes. So when you give a reason that is not meaningful to your child, they don’t care. They do not care.
I had a parent once tell me, “I tried Effective Praise, and we went through the steps,” and I asked her, “What was the meaningful reason that you wanted your child to get up in the morning?” and she said, “Well, because it doesn’t make us late, so we can be on time.” And I had to pull on the brakes. I pulled on the brakes, and I said, “Okay, so the rationale, the reason, the meaningful reason that it’s important for her to get up on time, is so you won’t be late.” She had to pause and think about that. The reality is, we all think this way, all parents think this way. And so, this requires a parent to step out of themselves and look at their child and figure out what’s meaningful to them. What is meaningful to their child, in order to help them follow through?
So, let’s take the example of Karen and Bill, okay? Let’s take the example of Karen and Bill, and they walked in the room, and they ask their son to turn off the game or pause the game so they can communicate and talk to him. So they show their approval, they move in front of the television, they’re doing all of these things.
Step number three is to give a meaningful reason of why it’s important to turn off the video game. So what we can do at this point is evaluate what’s important to our child? What is of value to our child? More video game time? Possibly. And so, we started off with that with Bill and Karen. So they gave the meaningful reason of, “When you pause it when we first ask you, then we can take care of business, and then you’ll have more free time to play, and that keeps us from having to come in and bother you so much.” And for a while, that worked with Jeremy. That’s a meaningful reason focused on the child, and that gives him motivation to continually do that type of behavior.
So when you combine this with all the nuances of Effective Praise, super, super powerhouse interaction with your children. This is going to make them really take in stock everything that’s happening, repeat positive behaviors, and continually do good things. Now, you’re going to have to alter the meaningful reason at various times of your child’s life, and you’ll have to evaluate whether or not it’s working. This step, give a meaningful reason, tends to be the one area where parents struggle the most, and they don’t take into account that their child is growing and that their interests are changing. So a parent that is really good at being able to do this is a parent that is very aware about the needs of their child and what is important to their child, because they can just use something that they’ve observed their child spend their free time in. Or they can use something that they notice their child really enjoys as a way to motivate that positive behavior.
So if you struggle with finding what a meaningful reason is, really take a step back and evaluate. Observe your child and come to some conclusion of what are the four or five things that are of real value to your child, and how can I use these in the steps of Effective Praise? That requires work on your part as a parent, but it’s work well worth it because once you have four or five things, you can use them interchangeably, based on what it is that you want to Effectively Praise them for, and to help repeat the positive behaviors down the road in the future. Super, super great. Okay? So take some stock, find out what’s meaningful to your child. You will notice that you can also use the same things that feed the psychological needs that video games do. So again, building trust, confidence, confirms mastery of an action, competence, autonomy. I mean, if it can answer any of those questions, that’s also an area where you can give a reason that fits one of those criteria to help you out.
So Smarter Parenting does have a worksheet that you can use in order to determine what things are important to your child. It’s called Finding a Meaningful Reason, and so, I will be sure to include a link to that in the notes, so you can take a look at it and use it because it will guide you through finding out what is a meaningful thing for your child. And by identifying those things you can reinforce them doing positive behaviors. So, I want you to focus on that. In fact, I want to give you this assignment, is to find the meaningful reasons.
Now, the fourth step to Effective Praise is a reward, and that’s optional. For Jeremy, for Bill and Karen, I wanted them to start off by giving rewards and rewards are tricky. For me, rewards should not cost anything because the way that I view rewards, is that if you are spending, you’re going to have to continually spend to reward your child for things, and there’s almost this expectation for that, where it’s impossible to keep up as your child grows. So I always look for rewards that are easy, that are accessible, and that can be done with little or no money at all. With the preference being on no money at all.
You’re probably wondering what kind of rewards are like that. Okay? So more free time with friends. More time with parents. Doing a fun activity together would be one. For younger children, it would be reading a book late at night. I mean, just simple things. Longer curfew in the evening. There are various things that you can use as a reward, letting your child sleep in a little bit longer in the morning. For some children, that’s a reward, and that doesn’t require any money. Just be aware. I come from the old school where you want to keep the budget tight because we have a lot of families on tight budgets. I’m on a budget, everybody’s on a budget when you have children, it’s just the way it goes, but there are rewards that you can provide that will help reinforce.
For Bill and Karen, I asked them to use a reward to help them engage with their child, and every time he does something positive, to continually encourage him to continue that behavior. And so, this is the approach that Bill and Karen are taking with Jeremy in helping him work through this tumultuous time that they are with him, because for him, video games are an escape. And his parents, by approaching Jeremy in this way for even the small positive, are countering that. And in reality, are more powerful because it’s real life, these are real people. Video games cannot replicate that and they can’t replicate touch the same way as a real person, and real connection, which is what we want, absolutely want with our child.
So, I just want to recap. We talked a lot about Effective Praise. We talked about the steps of Effective Praise. I shared with you some of the techniques that you can use as far as nuances in the way that you praise your child. The steps do not change. You want to keep the steps exactly the same. However, how you deliver those steps, the nuances that I’m talking about, of voice, your volume, your tone, your position in the room, how close you are, physical touch, all those things, all those nuances are things that you can control and that you have access to and adjusting based on your needs.
And then, the second thing we focused on was giving a meaningful reason that’s important for your child—being sure that we’re focused on the needs of the child and their interests, rather than our own. By being able to use all of this information, you’re going to see transformations happen in your child. You’re going to be able to see them grow in positive ways by doing small things, that you consider small, and praising them for it. To doing larger things and wanting to do those things, because you are constantly noticing the good things that they’re able to do, and you’re willing to recognize that. Children like to be recognized for the good things they do. They do. They like to be encouraged. They like to feel like, “Hey, I’ve done something well,” and when it comes from a parent, specifically, someone who is supposed to be there to give them the emotional stock and support that they need, it is so powerful, and in the long run, creates relationships that last.
This is a four-step skill, and yet it is so powerful. So powerful. So take the time to learn the steps. Memorize them. Give some real meaningful thought into how you’re going to implement this in your own family and with your child, and really just understand the psychology behind it. And a lot more empathy for your child if your child is struggling with video game addiction, because again, the games that are out there, video games are structured in a way to draw your child in, and Effective Praise is the same way. It helps to draw your child into you and into your family and into everything that’s happening in your home.
Wonderful stuff. There’s just so much I want to share. You have no idea how grateful I am when you call in for a coaching session. I don’t think people realize just what a thrill it is to communicate with parents online. When I get a phone call, I have appointments where I’m coaching parents, that is my greatest joy in what I do because I’m able to communicate and learn, and also share information that parents may have not considered before. It really is an amazing thing for me, and I’m super grateful for that. That’s it for me, and I’ll see you again next week. See you.
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