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Mastering labeled praises for positive parenting

Labeled Praises with Therapist Sthefany Alviar, father teaching his elementary-age son and daughter about sharing with the help of labeled praises

Hello to all parents and caregivers of little people! Today I want to invite you to join me in practicing one of the fundamental skills of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) – labeled praises. Whether your kiddo is going through the Terrible Twos or the Struggle Bus Sevens, mastering this technique can be a game-changer in your parenting journey.

What are labeled praises?

First things first, let’s break down what labeled praises are all about. In PCIT, labeled praises are specific, descriptive compliments that highlight your child’s behavior in a positive way. If you ask your child to pick up their toys and they listen right away, then instead of just saying, “Good job,” you might say something like, “Wow, great job listening and minding!” These praises are like little nuggets of positivity that tell your child what exactly it is that you are the most excited about. (I mean, the picked up toys are nice, but if you have a little limit tester, then that first-time listener status might be way more important to you!) Labeled praises help reinforce good behavior and boost your child’s self-esteem.

Why are labeled praises important?

You might be wondering why there’s all the fuss about labeled praises. Well, here’s the deal: Praises aren’t just a nice way to communicate. Labeled praises serve several important specific purposes:

  1. Encouraging Positive Behavior: By praising specific actions, you’re communicating important lessons about what matters to you, reinforcing those behaviors, and encouraging your child to do them again in the future.
  2. Building Self-Esteem: When you acknowledge and praise your child’s efforts, no matter how small, you’re sending the message that they are capable and valued. This boosts their confidence and self-esteem, which lays the groundwork for future success.
  3. Strengthening the Parent-Child Bond: Labeled praises are a powerful tool for strengthening your relationship with your child. They create moments of connection and positivity that build trust and deepen your bond. Think about how nice it feels when your boss or partner acknowledges you for a job well done – words can have a powerful impact!

Let’s practice together!

Okay, now that we know why labeled praises are so important, let’s put them into practice! I’m going to give you a few scenarios, and I want you to come up with some labeled praises that you could use in each situation. Don’t worry if you’re not sure at first – practice makes perfect!

Scenario 1: Your child helps set the table for dinner.

Labeled Praise Example: “I love how you’re helping set the table! You’re being such a responsible helper.”

Scenario 2: Your child shares their favorite toy with a friend.

Labeled Praise Example: “You’re such a kind friend for sharing your toy! That’s really thoughtful of you.”

Scenario 3: Your child tries a new food without fussing.

Labeled Praise Example: “Wow, you’re being so flexible trying that new food! I’m proud of you for being willing to give it a try.”

Keep practicing!

See? It’s not so hard once you get the hang of it! The key with this skill is to be specific, genuine, and consistent with your praises. So, the next time you catch your child doing something awesome, give your new skill a try – shower them with labeled praises and watch their confidence soar!

And if that doesn’t work – contact our team of therapists to connect with a clinician who specializes in parent-child communication.

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