For any child, words of praise can be an important part of learning those skills that can prepare them for adulthood. Whether the praise comes from a parent, a teacher, or even friends, children need to be told that they are appreciated and admired. Perhaps even more than with punishment, use of praise can help reinforce positive behaviours and provide children with the guidance they need to develop emotionally and socially.
But is there a difference in the type of praise that children receive? Based on the early work of Haim Ginott and expanded on by later theorists, children can receive either person praise, i.e., praise directly at a child's personal qualities (such as intelligence or attractiveness) or else they can receive process praise which focuses on how they behave. In other words, a child being praised for doing well on a test can either be praised for their ability (person praise) or for the effort they put in to study for the test (process praise).
To read more, check out my new Psychology Today post.