We strive to prepare children to be independent, capable, resilient, and self-motivated. Our carefully prepared environments, our Montessori teachers, and activities are all carefully designed with these long-term goals in mind. One of these aspects is the use of encouragement vs. praise.
Why We Avoid Praise
Praise and treats are the extrinsic motivators that can result in a child craving more as a reward, removing the enjoyment of the acts and accomplishments themselves.
Alternatives to Praise
Instead of reverting to the ease of the phrase “Good job,” we use a variety of phrases in our classrooms. We state our observations, acknowledge the process, listen, and inquire. A wonderful article from Motherly presents a few examples.
Some children may need a little push or guiding hand to allow them to go that extra mile. Gentle encouragement and guidance can help these children along. At times, it could even be as simple as letting the child know you’re there for them if they need a helping hand.
“I’ve seen you…”
“I know you can…”
“I’m here for you…”
An article from A Fine Parent discusses positive encouragement.
With every word we use and every action we take, we want to be mindful of how we’re helping a child in the long run. We want the children to be able to do, think, be motivated, be resilient and self-reliant. We want independent, happy, intrinsically motivated individuals who do what is right inherently; to have pride in themselves, their abilities, and take ownership of their accomplishments. A wise person once told me: “We want to join the party the child has already started; we don’t want to start the party for them.”