The difference between praise and encouragement









I’ve been reading a new parenting book lately called UnSelfie by Michele Borba, and I’ve realized how often I conflate praise with encouragement. The Bible tells us to encourage one another, 1 Thess. 5:11. But how should one do this with words? Ms. Borba suggests utilizing words that encourage character rather than words that praise behaviors.  For instance, instead of saying, “Wow! That is an amazing drawing! You are so good at drawing”, instead use the language “You  are a creative person, I love that about you.” Instead of “That was nice of you to share with your sister” use “You are a kind person”. She sites a study on seven- to ten-year olds which found that using character praise helped the students “internalize altruism” and become more generous. Behavior praise might tend to build vanity, while character praise helps confirm a positive identity.


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