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As parents we love to lavish praise on our children. Often we do so not just out of excitement at our child’s accomplishment, but also as a means to boost her confidence and self-esteem.

How often have you said “You’re so smart” when your child did well on a test, or “What a great athlete you are” after your child had a particularly good performance during a sporting event?

But, did you know that praising your child’s intelligence or talent is actually harmful to your child’s confidence? Not only does it NOT build confidence, but it has been scientifically proven to cause a child to doubt her abilities when anything goes wrong, shy away from challenging projects, and can actually LOWER a child’s self worth!

Obviously this is not the desired effect we are hoping to have when we praise our children! That said, this certainly doesn’t mean you shouldn’t praise your child. Here is what you need to know as a parent: There is a right way and a wrong way to praise your child.

Praising in the right way builds confidence, encourages kids to accept challenging assignments, and develops persistence in working toward goals.

Praising in the wrong way encourages kids to avoid challenges, cuts into their confidence, decreases their motivation, and can even make them feel as if they are dumb.

So how do you praise in the right way, and avoid using praise in the wrong way? You praise your child’s effort, rather than his innate intelligence or talent. For example, if your child scored really well on a test, you might say something like “Congratulations on doing so well on that test. You sure put in a lot of effort studying and it really paid off.”

Staying away from praising your child’s abilities and instead focusing on their effort is a key to increasing your child’s inner confidence and self-esteem.

If you’re interested in learning more about praise and how it impacts your kids, please join me in my upcoming free teleseminar on Tuesday, May 31 at 9 PM Eastern entitled “7 Secrets to Building a Foundation of Confidence and Self-Esteem in Children”. You can find out more and enroll in this free class here:

This week, pay attention to how you are utilizing praise with your kids. Praising in the wrong way can give you the opposite effect you wish to achieve, but used in the right way, praise can be a wonderful tool, helping to build confidence and self-esteem in your kids.