A bit of praise can go a very long way

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BLAISE TAPP: Even in the 21st century, you can't beat old-fashioned playtime

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There are so many ways and means to try and get your children to do what you want them to do.

Some work well and some don’t.

With my two girls, I’ve found out it’s all about trial and error.

Often though, the most common method of simply asking them to do something doesn’t always get the result that is wanted instantly.

‘Tidy your toys away’ is a request that is often ignored by my three-year-old – going on 30 – daughter Caitlin.

To try and coax her into doing as she’s told, I could try saying something like: ‘Once all your toys are in the box you can have some chocolate.’

Or I could tempt her with: ‘Once all your toys are tidied away I’ll take you to the park’ – which I admit I have used in the past.

But I have since learned that there really is one technique that works every time and so far it hasn’t failed for me.

It’s so easy to do and it doesn’t involve sugary treats or half-an-hour of pushing Caitlin on the swings.

It’s quite simple really. You see, I remember that warm, fuzzy, confident feeling I got when I was a child and my parents or teachers would give me praise when I had demonstrated good behaviour.

Now, when required, I’m passing that feeling on to my child.

I simply praise Caitlin when she has shown genuine effort in the hope that she will also get that warm, fuzzy, proud-of-herself feeling and want to act in that way again.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean giving out praise just for the sake of it.

I’m not going to tell Caitlin how proud I am of her just for simply eating her dinner or doing as she is told. There does have to be balance.

I want to give Caitlin enough praise that she will feel a sense of self-confidence, but not too much that she will become a big-headed egomaniac.

I believe that, although well-intentioned, full-on praise for every little move a child makes will become too normal and insincere and not at all special.

And I believe that there is one thing praise has to make the child feel and that is special.

It could also have the effect that the child becomes over-confident and cocky. Let’s be honest, no-one wants to have a brat for a child.

But I believe that if praise is always sincere and honest and focuses on a child’s effort and willingness to take on something new (whatever the outcome), it will produce good results and a confident child.

I’ve also learned it works both ways.

When Caitlin noticed I had eaten all my vegetables on my plate she said: ‘Daddy I’m very happy with you for eating your vegetables, well done.’

And yes, I felt warm and fuzzy.