two smiling tween girls in a field with the words Motivating With Praise layered over the top of the image

Motivating Tweens With Praise

motivation parenting

The start of a new school year can challenge your tween's confidence, but your support can make a significant difference. One of the most effective ways to motivate your tween is through praise. 

Personal Praise vs. Effort-Based Praise

Personal praise focuses on inherent traits such as natural talents or physical attributes--things your tween has no control over. So, while well-intentioned, often misses the mark. Examples include comments on athletic ability, height, or appearance.

Instead, try effort-based or behavior-specific praise. Amanda Morin, an expert in education and neurodiversity, emphasizes the power of these types of praise. 

Effort-Based Praise

Effort-based praise acknowledges the hard work and perseverance your tween puts into tasks. For example, praising their dedication to making the track team or participating in a charity fun run focuses on their effort, not just their natural athleticism. This kind of praise empowers your tween by recognizing their control over their achievements.

Behavior-Specific Praise

Behavior-specific praise gives clear feedback on what your tween is doing right. For instance, saying, “Great work getting out the door on time this morning! It’s not always easy, but you did it!” highlights a specific positive behavior. This clarity helps your tween understand exactly what they did well and encourages them to continue such behaviors.

Delivering Effective Praise

 To maximize the impact of your praise, follow these tips:

  1. Be Specific: Ensure your tween knows precisely what you are praising. For example, instead of a general “Good job,” specify, “I’m proud of how you handled that tough math problem.”
  2. Praise Progress: Acknowledge the steps your tween takes towards a goal, not just the final achievement. Celebrate the daily efforts and improvements that lead to success.
  3. Be Sincere: Genuine praise builds trust. Overpraising or insincere compliments can make your tween doubt their abilities. Kids know when you’re piling it on and you need them to trust you and the relationship they have with you. If you praise insincerely, kids might wonder if they’re actually capable of handling more. This is in line with the points that struck me in How to Raise an Adult
  4. Avoid Comparisons: Focus on your tween's unique strengths rather than comparing them to peers or siblings. Everyone's strengths are unique. Highlighting what makes your tween special fosters confidence and individuality.

Using these methods, you can help your tween feel valued and motivated throughout the school year. For more valuable insights, explore Amanda Morin's website or read the article this information was curated from at

Remember, your support and encouragement are so important. You’re doing a great job already so keep it up. You got this!