You've gotten your kids up, fed (mostly), dressed (mostly), lunches made (mostly) and out the door before you've even had time to feel like a human. Granted, you may still be in your PJs, but that's not something to be ashamed of. You're awesome — give yourself a pat on the back for all that you do!

Now you probably have a smile on your face — am I right? We all love hearing good things about ourselves. Your children are no different. It's important for them to hear praise; and it's vitalfor them to hear effective praise. And yes, there is a difference. Most praise we give our children is what we call general praise. "You're awesome" fits into this category. While it may make us feel warm and fuzzy for a few minutes, it doesn't tell us why we're awesome. But, adding "You're awesome because you've gotten your kids up and dressed before you feel like a functioning adult" gives you a better picture of the reasons why.

By simply changing how you praise, you'll notice some pretty major benefits in your family. Effective praise is powerful.

Effective praise teaches your children what positive behavior is acceptable.

When your child knows what behavior brings praise from you, he is more likely to repeat the behavior to hear the praise. Who knew howyou praised your kids could change their behavior?

Effective praise gives your children specifics

Children like specifics. They are still trying to figure out the world around them, and sometimes that world is confusing. Your child may wonder why they are praised at one time then criticized at another for what they see as the same behavior. Specifics help remove that confusion and allow your children to make parallels; specifics give order to their world.

Specific praise is not hard. In fact, it's really quite simple. Instead of telling your child "Thank you for helping with dinner," which tells them nothing about why you appreciate their help, instead tell them, "Thank you for washing the vegetables for the salad," or, "Thank you for helping your brother set the table." Being specific will encourage them to help their brother or wash the vegetables the next time because they know their efforts are appreciated.

Effective praise helps you find reasons to implement a specific behavior that is motivating to your kid.

We are all motivated by different things, and many parents use theirmotivation to try to get their kids to do something — which is not helpful at all! Want to know what's motivating to your kid? Watch what they do in their spare time. Finding the right motivation can be a bit of an abstract concept; so here's what we mean: Your kid doesn't like to help you set the table before dinner.

You may praise him when he finally helps out by saying, "Thank you for setting the table; now we can eat sooner." Getting dinner on the table sooner is your motivation, however, not his. Eating dinner sooner could mean that he'll miss his favorite TV show. So if you want to praise him for his effort, it'll be a 100 times more effective if you say something like, "Thanks for helping me set the table. I know this is your favorite show and because you helped me when I first asked, we won't eat dinner until the show is over."

This article was originally published on Smarter Parenting. It has been republished here with permission.

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