Specific Praise

This refers to a style of praising a child’s specific behaviors, rather than general traits. For example, rather than saying to a child, “You’re so helpful,” a specific praise might be, “I love how you held the door open for me when my hands were full!” Psychological research suggests that specific praise is particularly useful when a behavior change is desired. It is often more effective for parents and caregivers to use specific praise to reinforce moments when a child engages in a desired behavior, no matter how briefly (e.g., “Wow! I just noticed that you gave your sister a turn even though I could tell you were really having fun with that toy!”), rather than using criticsm to punish non-desired behaviors (“Amelia, you’re being greedy!”). Specific praise is more pleasant for everyone, better for relationships, and actually more likely to result in positive behavior change!
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book is an excellent read for children who struggle with inattention, whether in the context of ADHD or otherwise, and who will benefit from a reminder that their minds are “amazing.” Sadie is a daydreamer, and she expresses frustration that she can’t get her mind to “stay put.” Her parents remind her that her inattention comes along with many positive qualities, including being imaginative, creative, and kind.
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book is an excellent read for kids with hyperactivity and/or impulse control challenges (including kids with an ADHD diagnosis) who need a reminder that they’re “wonderful.” It prompts caregivers to remember to point out a child’s strengths and positive behaviors, which is both necessary for kids’ self-esteem and a very effective strategy for supporting positive behavior change.