Have you ever notice that people tend to give specific feedback when you screw up? Or, that you get vague “good jobs” when have done something well?
We often are able to give specific negative feedback easily. For example, “stop hitting your sister”; “sit still”, or “no jumping on the bed”. These statements are clear and give details on what should or shouldn’t happen.
On the other hand, when a person does something positive, the feedback is often vague. “Good job”, “good boy”, or “nice work”. Try and think about what you like about what they did. Below are 4 skills to apply when giving feedback to your children.
  1. Be Specific.  Give detailed guidance on how to improve behavior or what is going well.  Vague feedback, like “good job”, doesn’t help continue positive behaviors or minimize negative ones.
  2. Timely.  Immediate feedback is more effective when learning new, difficult skills.  Delaying feedback is usually better when practicing and applying knowledge.
  3. Say what you see, not how you feel.  “I see that you shared with your brother and you two are playing together” reinforces capabilities and strengths. Whereas, “I am so proud when you share your toys” reinforces approval. 
  4. Avoid naming siblings as examples.  “Your sister is sitting quietly” can lead to resentment and discouragement. 
While there are times when negative feedback is necessary, positive feedback tends to be more motivating and helps with self-esteem. Try catching children when they are being helpful, kind, etc. or doing something well.  This helps them to understand what you expect, highlights they are competent, and reinforces their strengths.

How can you add specifics to your positive feedback?