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Praise a Student, Change a Life

Praise produces engaged students

Praise is an essential component to success

We Love To Get a Little Love

There’s nothing like some well-deserved praise. It gets us moving. It helps us stay motivated. And it keeps our eye on the prize.

There is a growing body of research that shows kids are no different. How so? It could be as simple (or complex) as brain development. Growing brains require more positive interactions. Positive interactions are healthy, and giving praise is a healthy way to communicate.

Even unwarranted recognition can be healthy. At times, even more than the warranted kind. There’s a well-intentioned theory behind the idea that rewarding kids positively is beneficial. Students are in the learning mode of their life. And, as we know, praise has far more benefits than than criticism.

How unhealthy is criticism?  Think back to your learning life. If you remember the negative moments more than the positive ones, you are not alone. They stand out because the associated emotions are stronger. But, what if the positive moments were front and center? That would be ideal, and its achievable through positive recognition. Schools that promote the positive even in the face of inevitable negatives are building life long believers.

Unwarranted Praise In the Most Difficult of Times

Unwarranted praise has the ability to lift students out of difficult situations. The traditional method of discipline focuses on punishment. Simply, history has not kept pace with society in how we work in correcting wrongs. Punishment reinforces the negative activity, whereas praise lifts self worth. NPR has a fascinating story on a school that uses praise in the most difficult situations.

The lesson is simple. Students who arrived late, were in trouble with police, or were suffering from homelessness were told how great they were. That’s right – even if you are in trouble with the law, there’s still greatness in you. Unconditional love and praise has the power to produce positive citizens. Aligned in every school mission statement should be just that: you are great because you are good.

Meaningful praise inspires, motivates, and unites

Meaningful praise inspires, motivates, and unites. As a communication tool, praise is essential. The more often a student is told they are good at something, the more likely they are to become even better.

And when students believe, they succeed, and when students succeed, our society succeeds for the long run.

Do a small part and tell a young one how great they are. Even if you think they could be better. Chances are, they’ll do better just by hearing it.

About The Author

Chris Coomey is a teacher, writer, and community engagement specialist. When not working with students or writing about education, you can find him on his bike, on the basketball court, or out on a long hike on the incredible Colorado trails.