What can parents and carers do to create a strengths-based, nurturing environment for their children to play, learn and grow?
The team from the Bendigo Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) have a few tips and tricks. Here are their top three suggestions.
Behaviour specific praise
Often children are given more attention when they behave in ways that are considered undesirable or unhelpful than when they behave in constructive, helpful ways. When children get attention for undesirable behaviours, this can have the unwanted effect of making the child do that behaviour more often.
Behaviour specific praise is when you focus on specific desirable behaviours and give positive feedback to the child when they behave in that way. You may also aim to ignore undesirable behaviour (whenever it is safe to do so).
Not only do you praise the child, you give very specific praise so that the child knows exactly what they did and what you liked about what they did.
Examples of behaviour specific praise versus general praise:
- Behaviour Specific Praise – Thank you for helping me set the table for dinner. The table looks great and is ready for dinner.
- General Praise – Good job!
- Behaviour Specific Praise – You put your socks and shoes on by yourself. I knew you could do it without my help.
- General Praise – That’s fantastic!
Knowing exactly what is being praised can feel very reassuring for children and can help build their confidence.
The 3C’s—confirm, complete, correct
Children can be easily discouraged if they feel that they don’t understand something or are repeatedly getting things wrong.
Instead of telling children that they are right or wrong when answering a question or responding to a problem, it can be more supportive and encouraging to use the 3C’s – Confirm, Complete, Correct.
- Confirm – when a child gives the correct answer to a question or problem, the parent or carer repeats the answer back to the child.
- Complete – when the child responds with a partial answer, the parent or carer repeats what the child has said adding the missing information.
- Correct – if the child has no response, says they don’t know or gives an incorrect response, instead of telling them they are wrong, the parent or carer simply responds by speaking the correct answer.
The 3C’s help parents respond positively to their child’s efforts. By using this process, children feel safe to have a go, make mistakes and feel confident to try again.
Many parents and carers will have been unconsciously doing ‘everywhere learning’ this past few years, with so many being thrust into the world of home schooling.
At its essence, everywhere learning is finding opportunities in everyday life to teach your child.
- When you are at the shops, help your child to count how many apples you’re putting in the bag. Point out different shapes around the shop. What shape is the cereal box? What shape is the tin of tomatoes?
- At the park, talk about the tall trees and small trees, or the different textures around them—rough, smooth, sharp, prickly, soft.
- When you are cooking, talk about the different colours of the vegetables. Introduce the idea of fractions—half a cup, a quarter of a carrot, 250ml of water.
There are so many opportunities for teaching your child. The most important thing is to make learning fun by supporting children feel safe to make mistakes and encouraging them to feel confident to have another go.
HIPPY is a two-year, home-based, early learning and parenting program for families with young children. Over two years (in the years before and after starting full-time school), HIPPY children work through weekly or fortnightly packs of play-based, educational activities with their parents and family. They are encouraged to ask questions and try new things; developing their confidence and passion for learning, which enables school-readiness.
For more information about the HIPPY program, please visit their website.
Here are some other resources that can support parents take a strengths-based approach to learning: