The third Thursday of every March is Incredible Kid Day.
It’s not just Incredible Kid Day, it’s Absolutely Incredible Kid Day.
This fun holiday is an opportunity for you to recognize you kid’s general awesomeness. Use it honor their achievements and remind them how much you love them. You may do this every day, but if you surprise them with special recognition on what to them may seem a random Thursday in March, we’re sure they’ll appreciate it. And if you’ve fallen into the trap of assuming your kid knows how much you love and appreciate them – as many of us do in our relationships across all areas of life – this day is a chance to make double sure they know you think they’re incredible.
If your kid is now a teenager with significant emotional or behavioral issues, this day is more important than ever. Inside of the challenges, you can find the good. You can find the incredible. When you’re navigating thorny issues, it’s easy to lose sight of the good – but we promise: it’s still there. You’re most likely to find it when they’re doing something they love to do or doing something they do well. Seize that moment and make sure they know you recognize the goodness inside of them by offering praise. For teens going through tough times, a little positive reinforcement can go a long, long way.
Types of Praise
Praise can boost self-esteem, solidify feelings of belonging, and encourage kids to develop habits that will help them succeed when they reach adulthood. Research into the effects of praise on children yields conflicting and complex data: if you want to take a deep dive into a peer-reviewed journal article published by the American Psychological Association on the topic, click here and settle in with a cup of tea.
For a more user-friendly take, read on.
Author and education specialist Amanda Morin recognizes two basic types of praise:
- Personal Praise: Personal praise recognizes natural ability and qualities of character. Parents generally use this type of praise to show affection. Examples: “You’re such gifted soccer player,” or “You’re a great artist,” or “You’re such a sweet kid!” While this type of praise certainly has its place and there is nothing wrong with praising your kid this way, experts warn against using it too much. When it’s the only kind of praise a kid hears, it may have two negative consequences: an over-inflated ego and a tendency to avoid doing things that don’t come naturally.
- Effort-based Praise: This is the type of praise preferred by teachers and child/adolescent development experts. It’s preferred because it recognizes things within a child’s control, rather than things they were born with. It reinforces process over product and perseverance over performance. Examples include: “I admire how hard you worked on your presentation for history class,” or “Your dedication really helped your soccer team this year.”
These examples are clearly very basic, but they’re great templates for how to praise your kids throughout their lives – not just during childhood. When you give effort-based praise, it should be sincere, specific, and realistic. For helpful tips on how to give effort-based praise, click here.
Have Fun Today
Think of Absolutely Incredible Kid Day as an excuse to do something fun. If you have a troubled teenager, turn back the years and consider dusting off an old tradition you haven’t done in years. Go back to something you used to do before life got so complicated. Before you both faced the challenges of emotional, behavioral, or substance use disorders. Something that reminds you both of the days before everyone was crazy busy with homework, extracurricular activities, and social commitments. Get back to basics: a movie, a picnic at the park, or some ice cream.
The cheesier the better!
Angus is a writer from Atlanta, GA who writes about behavioral health, adolescent development, education, and mindfulness practices like yoga, tai chi, and meditation.