S2E8 – Encouragement vs. Praise: The Key to Nurturing Self-Esteem in Your Child

Apr 10, 2024

I can’t emphasize enough the profound impact of encouragement on a child’s self-esteem, self-worth, and overall development. Unlike the other pillars we’ve discussed, encouragement stands alone as a powerful tool that shapes a child’s understanding of their identity, capabilities, and innate value.

In this episode, we delve deep into the crucial distinction between praise and encouragement. Praise, although well-intentioned, often includes value judgments that inadvertently make children dependent on external validation. On the other hand, encouragement focuses solely on the child’s efforts and contributions, fostering an internal locus of control – a sense of motivation that comes from within.

I challenge you to become more aware of when you slip into praising your child and consciously pivot to encouragement instead. Start your sentences with “you” – “You worked really hard on that!” or “You used so many colors in your painting!” This simple shift empowers your child to celebrate their efforts, embrace challenges, and find fulfillment in their own accomplishments, regardless of the outcome.

Remember, self-esteem is the foundation for almost all positive change in a child. When we encourage our children, we nurture their confidence, resilience, and belief in themselves. This, in turn, transforms their interactions, relationships, and overall behavior in self-enhancing ways.

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Cochran, N., Nordling, W., & Cochran, J. (2010). Child-Centered Play Therapy (1st ed.). Wiley.
VanFleet, R., Sywulak, A. E., & Sniscak, C. C. (2010). Child-centered play therapy. Guilford Press.
Landreth, G. L. (2002). Play therapy: The art of the relationship (2nd ed.). Brunner-Routledge.
Bratton, S. C., Landreth, G. L., Kellam, T., & Blackard, S. R. (2006). Child parent relationship therapy (CPRT) treatment manual: A 10-session filial therapy model for training parents. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.
Benedict, Helen. Themes in Play Therapy. Used with permission to Heartland Play Therapy Institute.

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