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Using Praise Teaching Strategies

Janelle Cox

There’s a common belief in education that the more you use praise teaching strategies on a student, the better. However, when a child is constantly being praised (even if they shouldn’t be), then there’s a good chance it can backfire. Excessive praise isn’t meaningful, and it doesn’t change a students’ behavior. In fact, it may even lower a students’ expectations. In order for praise teaching strategies to be effective, they must be sincere as well as meaningful. Here we’ll take a look at a better way to praise students, and why more isn’t always better.

Teaching Strategies: Can You Praise a Student Too Much?

The common notion is that you can never praise a child too much, and when children are confident in themselves, they’re not only happier, but they perform better in school. Research has not supported this notion, and says that too much praise can actually become meaningless to a child. The more that you praise a child who is not worthy of it, the less effective it will be for the child. The latest research shows that too much praise is not good, and in order for it to be effective, it must focus on a student’s specific accomplishments. While educators can all agree that praise is critical in developing a child’s self-esteem, it’s important to note that when it’s given too much, it can lose its effect. In short, less is more.

An Effective Way to Praise

In order for praise to be an effective method that you use in your classroom, it must be meaningful. Here are a few suggestions taken from research on how to make sure you’re using praise to motivate students and steer them in the right direction.

Make Praise Meaningful

As mentioned numerous times, in order for praise to be effective, it has to have meaning. With that being said, a child will know if you are not being sincere. They will be able to see it in your face and hear it in your voice. If you’re not feeling it, the student will know. If you constantly say “Good job” to everything that a students does, it will devalue the praise and can actually hurt your relationship with the student. Too much praise that doesn’t have any meaning undermines the trust that you have with the student. Eventually, the student will stop believing you. Praise a student for their effort or on a specific accomplishment that they have achieved. Then they will know that you mean it.

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Make Sure Students Deserve It

The last thing that you want to do is praise a student for something that they don’t deserve. Only offer students praise when they have accomplished something or when you see they’ve put forth a lot of effort. Children will know when they are worthy of your praise, so you better make sure that you only offer praise when you see them go above and beyond what they normally do.

Praise in Private

Sometimes the most effective way to really get to a child is when you take the time to praise them privately. While praising children in front of their peers can be an effective motivator, taking the time to talk with a student alone can make it that much more meaningful. Try and keep it between the two of you -- sometimes students don’t like to be recognized in front of their peers.

Make Praise Appropriate

Praise doesn’t always have to be verbal, it can be in other forms as well. You can effectively praise a child in written form, through a picture, or even with a gesture. Make sure that you choose the appropriate form for that particular student. You know their personality and will be able to tell which form will be the best motivator.

Praise is Always Positive

Praise must always be positive and in a positive tone. If you praise a student in a sarcastic manner, then it will not be effective. Check not only your tone, but your body language as well. If you’re praising a child in a positive tone but standing with your arms crossed and a sarcastic look on your face, it will undermine any positive effects you were trying to give. Always be encouraging and positive when giving praise to students.

Praise can be an effective tool to encourage students to succeed in the classroom. However, in order for it to be effective, you must remember less is more.

Do you use praise as a part of your teaching strategies? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.