The Power of Positive Praise



This past September, Princess Peach moved from the senior infant room to the pre-nursery room at “school”. With the move comes a whole new set of learning expectations and changes. She is now learning a full nursery-based curriculum. They do circle time, letters, numbers, matching, gross motor, fine motor and religious based activities. It’s wonderful to watch all the amazing things that she is learning. One thing that they now do in her class is called the “Mitzvah tree” and “mitzvah notes”. In Hebrew, Mitzvah means a good deed.  So a mitzvah tree is a tree where the kids can hang their mitzvah notes or notes of their good deeds. Parents are encouraged to send their kids to school with a note with something great that the kid has done. It doesn’t have to be complicated at all. Princess Peach’s usually is something to do with listening, being gentle or kind to her brother, or eating a meal.

It’s quite a big deal each morning when The Hubster or I write her special note. She is SO proud of herself and usually wants to hold the note and hand it to her teacher herself. Her face just lights up with pride when I read her her note. We also talk about why she got it. During circle time each child who gets a mitzvah note gets to stand up while the teacher reads it and they sing a cute little song along with it. Then they hang the note on the tree. It’s very cute.

She loves to pretend play and reenact getting mitzvah notes in school with us at home. She always gives Little Dude a mitzvah note for being a “good listener”. Can you tell we are praising her for that?

Princess Peach gets an enormous amount of praise from all of the people around her but I think as amazing as words are having something tangible to look at is much more meaningful for her.

It’s very easy as a parent to get caught up in the negativity of an active child. These days Princess Peach starts her day at 6am and has been pushing her bedtime back to 8:30 or 9:00 pm. It’s a long day on a good day but most days feel like they are never-ending with her and her brother. Being an active child there is often a lot of redirection on our part. Sometimes I catch myself saying “no” way too much or pointing out the negatives with her. In those moments I try (as best I can) to catch myself and make it into a positive statement and one that Princess Peach can achieve. Instead of saying “no” to mixing the playdoh (a massive petpeeve of mine), I offer her a choice of two colours. She plays with one and then cleans up and then can play with the other! Or, instead of battling her to get dressed, I wait her out and when she gets dressed quickly she ends up with a huge party from us and a mitzvah note!

I’ve actually thought about buying a wall sticker of a tree to make our own mitzvah tree at our house! I’m sure over my lifespan of parenting children we will try many ways to praise and encourage good behaviour in my kids. The mitzvah tree technique may only be a short-lived way to praise Princess Peach, but for the mean time it’s working and I’ll take it!

How do you praise your kids?


  1. joan says:

    I leave notes of praise for the kiddies daily. They love them/

  2. loriag says:

    I love it. Words can bring life, and you are speaking that into your wee one. How I wish I was way more positive when ours, I have learned much. We all love to hear praise.

  3. Jo-Anne Pfoh says:

    my son has so much self confidence because he grew up with praise and postive reenforcement

  4. Judy C (Judy Cowan) says:

    Praise is an important thing! And something we probably all need to practice giving more of.

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