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Keys are Specific, Not Vague Praise

Posted by Brett Berchtold at

            How often do we notice and articulate specific accomplishments?  It’s much easier to just say, “Good job!” or “I like that.”  But, is this helpful?  We believe that children build positive habits when we specifically notice a virtuous act.  If I say, “I see how many different colors you used,” when appraising artwork, it paves the way for continuous use of many colors.
            In the same way, when children complete a task or virtuous act, if I just say “good job”, it may or may not be repeated.  Instead, using The Keys, I would say, “You were motivated when you cleaned up the mess, doing it without me asking you first.”  This will encourage similar behaviors not only with messes but utilizes motivation in other ways, too.
Here are other examples of the specific nature of The Key to Success…     

  • “I see that you were prepared for swim practice, getting everything you needed.”
  • “I noticed that you slowed down and put forth effort on your penmanship.”
  • “You had a good attitude when you lost the game.”
  • “You let someone else go first. To make a sacrifice, that is an act of love.”
  • “You talked warmly to an unpopular girl – that was very loving.”
  • “You did not quit, even when it was very difficult. That take discipline.”
  • “I noticed that you were listening when everyone else was talking – that takes discipline!

“A teacher is as good as her most struggling student.” – Frank Gallagher, Founder


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