Praise for Doing and Praise for Being

One Good Recipe for Nurturing Self-Esteem

One good recipe that a parent, grandparent, teacher, or caregiver can provide on a daily basis is “Praise for doing and praise for being.” This is a recommended practice by many organizations that support positive parenting. Below is a link to a worksheet from Family Development Resources, Inc. that can help you implement this practice.

Why is “Praise for doing and praise for being” a good recipe for nurturing positive self-esteem?

  • First, praise for being is simply a statement that this child’s existence is of value to you as a parent. This sends the child a clear message that the child has worth. Examples are: “I love you.” “You are a wonderful girl.”
  • Second, praise for doing is recognition that the child did something well. This helps build responsibility and helps develop good habits. Examples are: “Great job on your homework.” “That is a very nice painting”. “I’m also proud that you have learned to keep trying.”
  • All messages should be sincere, and not wrapped together in the same statement. Here’s an example. Little Johnnie is told, “You did such a great job (praise for doing), I love you (praise for being).” Johnnie might see this as I am loved because I did a good job. In other words, my being loved is not conditional.
  • Also, praise for doing is best focused on effort. This means focusing on a specific task, such as, “Maria, you did a great job on your homework.”
  • Another opportunity in praise for doing is to praise for NOT doing. The key is to identify and praise positive habits or behaviors. For example, Melissa does not start her homework until Mom reminds her. When Maria starts her homework without being reminded, that is a good time to praise her for doing.

If you’re not doing this already, try starting today. At least one praise for doing, and one praise for being. Do it every day, and you will notice a positive difference.

Happy praising!

Download the“Praise for doing and praise for being” worksheet.