Read my latest post on FamilyShare, Why You Should Tell Your Kids Their Artwork Stinks to learn why I wouldn’t quite say it that way, but why I won’t give hollow praise, either.
Do you ooh and aah at every scribble and pencil mark? Here are some practical tips on how to best praise children and on organizing their artwork. Children sense insincerity and feel really proud when they know they’ve earned your praise.
Okay, I know. Telling your kids their artwork stinks sounds horrible. I wouldn’t quite say it like that, and I would keep in mind how young the kids are. But if you “ooh” and “aah” at every scribble, pencil mark or blobbed together Play-Doh sculpture, this is for you.
If you find yourself telling your child that every piece of artwork is wonderful, ask yourself if you may be saying, “That is so pretty,” without really thinking or paying attention. Sometimes we say something just to acknowledge a child who’s madly chanting, “Look, Mommy, look! LOOK!” Yes, it is easy to just stop the crazy with a quick compliment, but piling on hollow words is exactly that: hollow. Instead, I believe in being truthful with our children.
I find that when complimenting a child, it’s important to be specific and comment on things they have the control to improve. The details in praise let kids know we’re really paying attention. It gives them a glimpse of themselves from a parent’s point of view. In my work with new parents, I’ve experienced that throwing around the “good jobs” doesn’t work to improve kids’ self-esteem in the way so many parents imagine that it would. Sure, it’s important to notice the good things our kids do, and telling them does build their confidence, but how we do it matters. Broad brush strokes of “that’s wonderful” don’t do the trick.