Tip #2 – Giving healthy & successful praise or reproof to children

Tip #2: How do we give praise or reproof to our children?


In my Tips for Moms series, I want to share how our family dealt with giving praise or reproof to our children. One thing that was vital to us was that we do or say NOTHING that would negate the grace of God to our children’s burgeoning faith. If you know my husband and I at all, you know that we talk about EVERYTHING. Long before we had children we discussed the familiar practice of parents saying to their toddlers: Good Girl/Good Boy or Bad Girl/Bad Boy.

speaking praise

This may sound nit-picky but we chose to never use those phrases. We didn’t want our evaluation of who they were as people to be based on their actions. As we taught our children about grace and the redemptive work of the cross, we wanted them to be absolutely confident in their new nature. When we are saved, we are new creatures; creatures redeemed and cleansed from the penalty of the Law. Sometimes little throw away comments we make can undo teachings we give to our children. It is the thoughtless (as in not thinking) slips of the tongue that have deep impacts on our children’s lives, thoughts and beliefs.

So, we said instead, “That was a good thing you did!” or “No, honey, that was a bad job.” It is still important to praise and reprove their actions, but we tied the praise/reproof to the action alone and not to who they were.

What difference does it make?

Well, I’m not even sure that it made a huge difference for them. But I know every time I commented on their behavior rather than their nature, it reinforced in me God’s grace and the fulness of His gift of new life. When I was careful how I spoke to my children, I actually encouraged my own heart in the truth of God’s Word and of His love for me.

I’m trusting that if it made a difference in MY life, it had the desired effect on my children’s as well. I know I muffed it in many ways in raising my children. But I pray that this one practice had a beneficial and lasting outcome in their lives.

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  1. We were careful to do the exact same thing. I was concerned that if I said “good boy” all the time, my boys would then infer that they were a BAD boy when the opposite behavior was done. I love how you write about the change it brought about in your heart! πŸ™‚ Thanks for hosting today!

    • 28 parenting years later, I’m still amazed at how much more God used things He showed us to train our children in training US! πŸ˜€ Thanks for sharing, Nan!

  2. This is really good food for thought. Thanks for the idea – I never thought of it from this perspective before.

    • I love how we can challenge one another by the things God guides each of us in in our lives! Thanks for coming by sweet Rosilind!!

  3. I don’t think I’ve thought of that phrase in this context before, but I do know I just don’t like using it (even though I still catch myself saying it at times.) We take a similar approach to discipline, we do everything we can to connect their discipline to an action rather than, “You’re driving me crazy” We’ve had this rule from the beginning to always be able to name what we’re disciplining for; this helps us keep ourselves in check that we’re not disciplining for random reasons, and it helps the children understand why they’re receiving discipline.

    Great thoughts from you, as usual! πŸ™‚ Thank you!

    • Excellent thoughts, Caroline! I’m so glad you came over to share them!! ((hugs))

  4. Thank you, Kate, for being such a sweet hostess! I haven’t been linking up for a while due to time constraints, but hope to see more of you and your great blog!
    Thought-provoking topic to chew on. I see your point, but I never thought of it like that.
    Blessings today.

    • Hi Jacqueline! Thanks for stopping by and linking this week! Every Monday I gird up my loins (so to speak) and think, “Yep, this week I’ll be linking up all over” and then life and busyness happens and I don’t make it! So I hear ya, sister!!! πŸ˜€ So glad you shared.

  5. Life and death are in the power of the tongue — may we choose our words wisely! Thanks for the great post & for hosting & God bless!

    • Oh Amen, Laurie!! Thanks so much for joining in this week!

  6. Wise words, Kate! It’s so important to make sure that the seeds we’re sowing in our children with our words are chosen with the harvest in mind. The heart of a child is God’s territory; sowing there is a sacred task! Thanks for this reminder, and for linking up at Grace and Truth.

    • Thanks, Jennifer. I so agree with you! Glad you got to come by and visit.