Label Your Praise


You probably spend a lot of time thinking about what you wish your child would stop doing. It is just as important for you to spend time thinking about what you want your child to keep doing! These are the behaviors that you want to praise, and here are some ideas for how to label your child's good behavior:

  • Name the behavior you want repeated by saying, "I like that you are giving Matthew the toy."
  • Praise should always describe the behavior, not the child. 

Labeled praise means telling your child exactly what she is doing that you like. For example, if your child puts her toys away, instead of just saying, "Thank you," say, "Oh, thank you! I love it when you pick up your toys!" 


By telling your child specifically what you like about her behavior, it teaches her what you expect and want her behavior to be.

Brain Science for Your Baby


Social Learning Theory tells us that behavior is shaped by consequences (or "reinforcers"). Praise is a powerful positive reinforcer and will increase the behaviors you want to see in your toddler.  But research also tells us that really being specific about the praise helps children to know what to do.  New research tells us that praising the effort or the activity rather than just saying "good boy", or "you are so smart" helps children to work hard and feel confident which is important to learning, not only now - but later in school.


Learn more with this video  

A Baby Buffer Prescription for Your Baby

Show that you are excited when using labeled praise. Try to be as animated and positive as you can! Use an excited voice and give your child a pat on the back. This helps your child notice what you want her to do, which she will do more often because she wants your approval.


Catch your child being good: Often, when a child is playing quietly, doing what she is supposed to be doing, you may simply let her play, without talking to her. However, this is the perfect time to use labeled praise to encourage more positive behavior. 


Praise more than you correct (the "4 to 1" rule): It can be easy to fall into the trap of spending most of your time correcting misbehavior, especially if your child tests your rules all day long! A good rule of thumb is that you should use labeled praise for positive behavior 4 times for every 1 time you respond to "bad" behavior-actions that you don't want your child to do, such a hitting or throwing a temper tantrum. 


A baby Buffer Prescription for You   


Children's stress upsets well as the children! When you focus on what you WANT your child to do, instead of what you DON'T want, you will be happier! And your happiness will be contagious!  In that way, you can make a positive difference in children's behavior...and yours!


Make time for exercise, hobbies, maintaining friendships and connecting with other adults. That may mean committing to spending regular time at the gym or making date night a priority. Both have been proven to help you cope with stress and tolerate frustration.










What Your Baby Can Do - Developmental Milestones 


Emotionally, one-year-olds are just learning to recognize and manage their feelings. They experience a wide range of emotions and have tantrums when they are tired or frustrated. They may also respond to conflict by hitting, biting, screaming, or crying. One-year-olds want their independence, and may say, "No!" to adult suggestions or insist that they, "Do it!" Then, moments later, they might cling to an adult's leg or ask for help.

Gene's Research Tip

This week, Gene urges you to READ the labels on all medications now that it's WIGA season. (WIGA = whatever is going around)  

Baby Buffer Blog
Written by Kristie Clark, MD

After my first baby, I devoted all my time to being a Mom and Pediatrician. I was so tired my eyes twitched!  After my second baby, my Doula (birth coach) gave me great advice: schedule one hour a week to do something healthy for yourself.  With experience I have found that a small amount of time everyday can be more valuable than a large chunk a week.


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