Compliments. Praise. Recognition. Affirmation. Gratitude. Appreciation. Positive feedback. Positive strokes. Pats on the back. Constructive feedback.

Good stuff!

Unfortunately, most of the feedback we give our kids is negative. You know – CRITICISM. When we’re bothered by something they’ve done and we want them to stop or make a change.

To really impact their behavior, what kids need is more of the good stuff. Actually, three or four times as much praise as criticism would be about right. It’s amazing how motivating a compliment can be!

If it’s done right, that is.

Here’s the secret…

Instead of giving a general compliment, mention the specific action that pleased you. AND – how you really feel about it.

Situation: Your daughter actually straightened up her room before going to school.

General feedback: “Good job, Sweetie!”

Specific feedback: “I love the way your room looks!”

General praise is OK. You could have said something like, “You’re great, Honey.” No harm was done. She’d know she did something you liked.

But by being specific, she knows exactly what she did that pleased you.

So she knows what to keep on doing right.


Another example…

Situation: Your son called you to let you know he’d be a half-hour late coming home.

General feedback: “I appreciate you, Jason!”

Specific feedback: “Honey, I really appreciate it when you let me know where you are and when to expect you. Then I don’t worry. We’ll hold dinner until you’re back.”

Kids need more positive feedback. More praise. More valid boosts to their self-esteem. They want to know that we notice when they’re doing things right!

But they also need to hear about it when you’re disappointed with their behavior. The approach for constructive feedback is almost the same. Instead of criticizing…

  1. Describe the specific action that displeased you.
  2. Share in words how you feel about it. 
  3. Restate your expectations
  4. Ask for renewed commitment
  5. Express your confidence that your child can make the change

So with a little effort, you can go from good feedback to great feedback. You can give the best feedback in the world.

The secret to changing the way you react…

And check out my book, Connect with Your Kid: Mastering the Top 10 Parent-Child Communication Skills. Chapters 9 and 10 are about giving effective feedback.

You can grow the bond with your child through better listening. Download the FREE ebook, Listening to Understand.