Replace Praise and Reward with Encouragement

"Children need encouragement like a plant needs water."
- Rudolph Dreikers, Adlerian psychologist and author of Children: The Challenge

Encouraging children communicates to them that they are loved and are good enough, just the way they are. It teaches them that their actions and behaviours are just what they do rather than who they are. It lets them know they are valued and that you do not judge them. Children who are encouraged have positive self-regard and a sense of belonging. They learn that mistakes are opportunities for learning and growth.

What does the difference between encouragement and praise look like? Authors Nelson, Lott & Glenn (2007) tell us that praise and rewards teaches children that their self-worth comes from what others think of them. They rely on this, rather than their own internal self-evaluation.

For example:

1) "I’m so proud of you." (praise) vs. "You must be proud of yourself." (encouragement)
2) "You got an A. I’m going to give you a reward." (praise) vs. "You really worked hard. You deserve that A." (encouragement)

It’s easy to praise a child who is doing well, but what do you do for a child who is misbehaving and not doing well? Here are some words of encouragement:

• "You really tried hard."
• "I have faith in you that you can handle it."
• "You are such a good problem solver, I’m sure you can figure out a solution."
• "I love you, no matter what."

Encouragement is a central tenant of positive parenting in that it teaches kids to believe in themselves and empowers them do the right thing.

For more tips on how to put encouragement into practice, join us for our Positive Parenting workshop on April 8th at Swansea Town Hall. Tickets are just $25! Space is extremely limited so register here today:

Contact the Parent Education Network on the web at, by phone at 416-255-8969, by email at, or follow us on Twitter @ParentEdNetwork or on Facebook at

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