How Praise Will Transform Your Child’s Maths Skills

Has your child got a fear of Mathematics?  Do they struggle with Maths?

Here’s a guaranteed way of transforming your child’s relationship with Mathematics.

In this post, I have been talking to Caroline D’ay of Wellbeing Dynamics about the benefit of praise. Specifically, how praise is fundamental to all your child’s success.

A bit about Wellbeing Dynamics

Caroline D’ay in a family coach with over 20 years experience of working with children and parents to build successful, happy and rewarding lives together. She uses her coaching and Master NLP Practitioner skills to help parents develop new skills.

Why do children need praise and how does it affect them?

“There are loads of reasons children benefit from being praised. 

Praise confirms that they’ve done something well and reinforces a particular quality, for example, being kind and caring. It creates a feeling of safety which in turn opens their young mind to trying new things. Praise also provides a positive affirmation of a behaviour you want them to display more of.

For example, if you praise a new skill they’re more likely to continue it – for example piano practice or doing their homework.  It gives children a real confidence boost to be praised. 

It also cheers them up after a tough day at school and makes them feel valid. Praise is brilliant to drip-feed their self-esteem

 My only caveat to making praise effective: it has to be genuine and appropriate or they won’t listen to it.”

So what happens if children don’t get praise?

“If a child doesn’t receive praise they don’t have any indicator of when they’re doing something well.  Humans are pack animals. We arrive on the planet designed to live with and around other people.  Without praise a child will have no blueprint of how well they are doing or ‘fitting in’ with the pack.”

How often does a child need praise?

“You really should praise your child every time they’ve done something worth praising. But do see my caveat above.  If you overdo it, or it doesn’t feel genuine, they won’t believe you. 

Don’t forget, they’ll do what you’ve praised them for more – in order to get more praise.”

How can praise possibly help a child with their homework? 

“At school, a good teacher praises the pupils who have done something well, or at least had a jolly good try at it.

It’s been proven that by praising a child for something they’re not doing yet, the child will be more receptive to striving to get better at it. So, telling people that “David is really good at Maths.” will encourage David to try. (This concept is the growth mindset).

Most children respond well to receiving praise because it means; a) they’ve done something well; and b) are in your good books. 

This means that you could simply praise the fact your child has done their homework at all, or you could pick out something good about it. Perhaps they’ve completed it without help, with attention to detail, with care about the presentation of their work, or thoughtfully. Or, perhaps, they completed it easily.”

How specific does praise need to be? 

“This really depends on what you’re praising. These days praising certain things is discouraged, for example, being beautiful. 

It’s widely considered better to praise behaviours or something they’ve done. So, if your child completed their maths homework, you could praise them either for being determined or focused (personal qualities) or something specific like them having achieved a milestone such as completing their times tables (skill).”

Shouldn’t I focus on looking for my child’s mistakes and showing them how to correct them? 

“No! Correction isn’t praise.  It’s more beneficial to find out what your child is naturally good at and praise those things.

Then find areas your child needs to improve – for example in mental arithmetic – and start to praise them for how well, or conscientiously they’re trying to improve.

This means that they’ll want to get better and better at that subject in order to have more praise. 

Do take care about back-handed praise – “David’s trying his best to do this maths but….”. This can have lead them to believe they’re never going to be good at maths.

 I think, after all’s said and done, it comes down to the fact that we all like to be liked – even tiny tots!”

Where Can I go from here?

If you are committed to supporting your child’s Maths learning at home, then have a look at my blog ‘How to Help Your Child With Maths Homework – Without Falling Out’  and ‘How Can I teach my Child Times Tables – 15 Fun Ideas’

If you need further help with your child’s Maths skills and confidence, please don’t hesitate to email: [email protected]

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