What is praise?

Praise is a great way to let your child know what they are doing well! It helps increase the frequency of the behaviors you want to see. Praise can include the things you say (“Great job cleaning up the toys!”), as well as things you do (e.g., giving a high five). In order for the praise to be effective, it should be conveyed in a way that is authentic and meaningful to the child.  For instance, if your child doesn’t care for verbal praise but really enjoys high fives, then providing a high five would be the most meaningful way to praise them.  

Why is praise important?

Most children value the attention they receive from their parents.  Attention, especially praise, can be useful when given intentionally.  Praise is a “tool” that helps support the development of behaviors you want to see in your child.

How do you use praise effectively?

Identify the behaviors you would like to reward through praise. These may include:

  • Praise for following directions
  • Praise for having independent play/time
  • Praise the “positive opposite”
    • What are the problematic behaviors that you are focusing your attention on? Try to intentionally praise the “positive opposite” of that behavior.
      • For example, if you tend to only give attention to your children when they are arguing, try shifting that attention to praising your children when they are playing/cooperating with each other nicely. 
  • Praise the behaviors you want to see as they are happening, even if they occur infrequently
  • Praise “good” behaviors that you appreciate
    • These behaviors can include waiting for their turn to talk, completing their homework, asking for things nicely, or sitting in a chair calmly.

Praise that is most effective includes the following qualities:

  • Genuine: Mean what you say/do when you praise!
  • Varied: Use different words, phrases, and non-verbal behaviors.
  • Labeled: Praise should explicitly identify or ‘label’ the specific behaviors that you want to encourage.  (E.g., Rather than “Nice job,” a labeled praise would be, “Nice job putting away your dishes!”)
  • Consistent: Praise should be provided consistently whenever the desired behavior occurs. 

Between-Session Practice:

What types of behaviors will you intentionally focus on using praise? Consider: 

  • Praise for following directions
  • Praise for independent play/time 
  • Praise ”positive opposites”
  • Praise desired behaviors, even if they’re infrequent  
  • Praise “good” behaviors


When will you use praise? Be specific! 

Tip: It’s often easier to pick a specific time of the day/activity/place to focus on praise. This way, you can be more intentional, rather than trying to praise throughout the entire day. To begin with, it’s more important to focus on giving quality praise for specific behaviors, rather than giving a lot of praise (quantity).


What are some ways you can remember to use praise? Who can help support you and remind you to use praise? 


Recording what you’re doing is a helpful way to know how things are going. Here is a table that can help you:

Date Behavior you praised How well you did Your child’s response
😀 🙂 😐 🙁😀 🙂 😐 🙁
😀 🙂 😐 🙁😀 🙂 😐 🙁
😀 🙂 😐 🙁😀 🙂 😐 🙁
😀 🙂 😐 🙁😀 🙂 😐 🙁
😀 🙂 😐 🙁😀 🙂 😐 🙁
😀 🙂 😐 🙁😀 🙂 😐 🙁
😀 🙂 😐 🙁😀 🙂 😐 🙁