Is there a better kind of praise?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 12,681
    Parenting expert Dr. Rene Hackney talks about a better kind of praise.

    Rene Hackney

    Originally a full-time preschool teacher, Dr. Rene Hackney now holds a Master?s in school psychology and a PhD. in developmental psychology from George Mason University. She trained at the Developmental Clinic at Children?s National Medical Center and for the public schools, teaching in parenting programs at each. She has also acted as a consultant to several area preschools.

    For the last four years, Dr. Hackney has owned and lectured for Parenting Playgroups, Inc, a parenting resource center and preschool classroom in Alexandria Virginia. She has offered workshops to a wide

    range of parent, teacher and social work groups during this time.

    Workshop topics include eight hours on positive discipline techniques, five hours on early academic issues and common issues such as sibling rivalry and potty training. All workshops provide well researched lecture, in-class practice and open discussion time. Additionally she hosts a monthly parenting focused book club and fun play programs to introduce the preschool setting to young families.

    Dr. Hackney is married and has two young children of her own.

    Host: Is there a better kind of praise?

    Rene Hackney: There is a better type of praise, it is called descriptive praise. Rather than being evaluative here, the parents are describing what the child did, giving them specific feedback. So, while evaluative was very vague, descriptive praise is specific. The parent is saying, You handed a block, you picked up your toys, you listened the first time. They are giving very specific feedback to the child telling them what it is they did, that way the child is better able to repeat at the next go around. It is not seen as being vague.

    It also gives ownership to the child rather than the parent saying, Oh, thank you so much. Oh, I really like that the parent is saying to that child, Wow, look how smart you are, look how good you made your friends feel. That was a really helpful thing to do. It is giving the child the ownership of that behavior, so they are more likely to repeat in the future. It also focuses on the intrinsic motivation. Rather than do something good because somebody will notice, it is do something good because it was the right thing to do. So, overtime you get a child who is building the intrinsic decision making, the intrinsic way of knowing what the right thing versus the wrong thing to do is in that situation. The descriptive praise, overtime, the child is learning specifically what behaviors are good as opposed to being left to wonder it.