Encouragement vs. Praise

Giving children specific feedback and encouraging them to evaluate their own work is a form of encouragement.

If we think of praise as a general statement, such as, “You did a good job” or “I like what you did,” we have not given the youngsters feedback for a basis to evaluate or improve. We have also given a personal opinion. 

In contrast, if we think of encouragement as giving specific feedback, such as “You filled the whole page with color,” or “You wrote your whole name,” then we are removing personal opinion. We are stating our observation.

When we encourage by giving feedback, we gently push the child to do his/her best. When we praise (using the definition of giving a general comment such as “good”—which is subjective), we leave children feeling that what is done is good when someone else tells them what a good job they did.

Specific information avoids the pitfalls of praise, which usually starts with, “I am …”

Another approach is to think that if you would not use the same phrase to an adult then don’t use it with a child—whom we want to have become responsible adults.