Constructive vs. Empty Praise

“Good job, Son!” … Sounds good, right?

Communicating with my two boys has been a hard lesson for me to learn. Thankfully, I have been put in situations where I have been taught to communicate in a way which will promote a desired end state.

What does all of that mean?

I learned that what I was giving my boys is known as Empty Praise. Essentially, the simple “good job” is not actually reinforcing the act that achieved the results. Often times, the pat on the back, or the “good job”, are used as a quick way to acknowledge our kids, and go on with our busy day.

This is not doing anything for your kids!

Bottom line, telling your kids “good job” often times just isn’t enough.

Ideally, what you want to do is praise the act or process that achieved the results. Sure, starting with “good job” is appropriate to acknowledge the accomplishment, but what follows is most important. Let us use the example of my son scoring 100% on a spelling test.

An example of Empty Praise would be:

“Good Job, Son”…and I continue doing whatever it was before he decided to share his accomplishment with me.

An example of Constructive Praise would be:

“Good Job, Son. All of that time that YOU spent studying, and writing out those sentences really paid off!”

The conversation could continue, but if it didn’t because of other obligations, this would be a more effective way of praising your child’s behavior.

The main difference between the two is that first, I acknowledge him by saying “good job”, but then I proceed to point out what processes led him to his successful grade. So, not only will he be happy that I am proud of him, but he will most likely repeat this behavior since he was made aware of what led him to the good grade the first place.

Our children want our attention, and they want to be acknowledged for their accomplishments in life, no matter how small. Utilizing constructive praise makes it more likely that your children will be willing to share their accomplishments with you, making your relationship stronger, and reinforcing constructive behaviors for your children to use in the future.

Until next time, friends!

Make the effort, do your part, fight to make your family better. This is what we’re all about.

Fight on Friends! – The Warrior Family


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7 responses to “Constructive vs. Empty Praise

  1. Pingback: Life’s Mountains : Capitalizing on Achievements to Instill Life Habits | The Warrior Family

  2. This is so true, we apply this also to when we tell them “Don’t do something.” The why is so important. Thanks for sharing. Glad I stumbled upon this share from Stephanie Moen. Always knew you were amazing, but I keep finding more nuggets of greatness about you!


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