We all like to receive praise, especially when we have accomplished a task or completed something that was new for us; children feel the same way about receiving praise.
Children particularly like to receive praise from their parents. It is important for parents to praise children, so that they are able to repeat the task, chore, activity, or assignment.
Our brains are a pattern seeking muscle. It seeks to find the pattern in order to receive the praise again. This is why praising is vitally important to a developing child. Our role as the parent is to make sure we are praising in a way that allows the child to repeat the task, chore, activity, or assignment that received the praise in the first place. We can accomplish this by using labeled praise instead of unlabeled praise.
Unlabeled praise is when we say, “good job”. As the brain is making a pattern, the praise of good job is not “attached” to anything, so the brain is unable to repeat the pattern. Additionally, when someone makes the statement “good job”, this means that the person approves of what was accomplished. For children, we want them to be self-approving instead of others-approving. We want our children to be satisfied with what they are accomplishing and not seeking the approval of others. This is where labeled praise becomes invaluable.
For the brain to make a patterned memory the parent should always label, or identify, what the child has accomplished. When this kind of statement is made first, then followed by a “tag” line, the brain is making a memory in order to repeat the same behavior that received the praise. Using labeled praise such as, “you were able to put all the blocks away, you did it”, “wow, you knew exactly what to study to make a good grade on your test, you did it”, or “you put the dishes away without being asked, wow, you are amazing”, gives the brain a memory or pattern of behavior that will receive praise again.