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One of the most important reasons to encourage an individual rather than praise them is to empower that individual. If I give you praise then I am telling you that you need my approval, that your worth is determined by me; when you should be able to define your own worth without seeking out approval from another. This seeking approval can come naturally because many of us want our loved ones to value what we think, feel, and do, and wanting the approval of a loved one is not a bad thing necessarily but one can be supportive while encouraging an individual. Praise is instant gratification; praise is here and gone in a second. “Oh, that’s nice,” the teacher says to the child who just showed them his or her artwork. The child sought attention and appreciation, received a typical response, and returns to their seat. Sure, saying “that’s nice” is a nice thing to say but encouraging statements leave a greater impact and truly shows the individual that you are paying attention. By saying “that’s nice” the teacher has given the child their approval. That tells the child what they did is important if the teacher says so, reinforcing authority, rather than encouraging positive self-esteem.

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