Speak out, speak smart

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2007, 12:00am

Search 'self-esteem' online and you'll soon see that it's a big topic. There are countless sites dedicated to the lack of it, the benefits of it, and how to build it.

Generally, experts say that parents and carers have a role to play in developing healthy self-esteem in children and that the way they speak, praise, encourage and criticise is crucial to this.

The Hong Kong Christian Service Family Networks promotes the acronym of Speak as a guideline for parents when praising children.

Specific Be specific in your praise. Pinpoint what kind of behaviour is good, excellent or great. Tell your child 'I think what you did there was great because ...'

Personal quality If your child is encountering difficulties, don't fall into the trap of praising a non-achievement. Instead, draw attention to their good personal qualities such as kind-heartedness, commitment to trying or generosity.

Effort Don't forget effort. A child may try hard and fail or get bad results, but you can still show that you appreciate the effort they've made.

Appreciation In the same vein, try to look at and appreciate the motive behind an action.

Kind: It's no use giving deserved praise if the tone of your voice conveys a different message. Remember to match positive words with a kind and sincere tone.