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Children learn about themselves through their relationships with their parents and carers. When you praise, you are teaching your child about their worth, how to be proud of themselves and raise their self-esteem.

If you notice the behaviours and qualities that you like, love and want to see in your child, they know to be proud of these and repeat them.

Notice the good things about your child

You can do this by:

  • Giving your child genuine praise when you are proud of them or see a positive behaviour, with words, a shared look, a smile, thumbs up or another gesture, a hug or positive touch. This helps your child learn what positive behaviour looks like.
  • Showing genuine enthusiasm when you give a compliment, smile and look at your child. Your child can tell if it’s not genuine.
  • Making it clear and specific to your child what you are praising. It will show you were paying attention and that you really mean it.
  • Using your child’s name positively. Sometimes you forget to use names in a positive way and you don’t want your child to only hear their name when they are being called in a negative way. Let your child ‘overhear’ you talking positively about them too.
  • Noticing your child just for being who they are. Praise doesn’t always need to be used to encourage a certain behaviour.
  • Noticing a child’s effort as well as the outcome and praising the things they can control, change or do again rather than the things that are outside of their control. If you praise effort, it teaches your child to keep learning and keep trying.
  • Helping your child to learn and grow for themselves, not by comparing themselves to others. Success doesn’t need to be competitive.
  • Thinking about your child. Some children would rather a quiet comment or look, others enjoy something louder and more showy – learn what works for your child.

Giving praise also helps you build a good relationship with your child, which will make you and your child happier.

Don’t forget to give time to praise yourself too. When you encourage yourself with positive ‘self-talk’ you are more likely to do the same for your child.

Where to get advice and support

Universal parenting support and advice is provided by midwives, health visitors, GPs and your local authority. Early help programmes such as Flying Start (if you live in a Flying Start area) and Families First are also available.

Look after yourself. Meeting up with other parents can be great for your wellbeing. Your local Family Information Service will be able to tell you what’s on in your area.