Praise and Encouragement

For a parent of a child with special needs, it can be frustrating and rewarding when teaching or be training their child to learn new things!

Most tasks, especially for Autistic children or children with Developmental Delay, need to be broken down into smaller tasks or steps so that each element of the task can be achieved to overall accomplish the big overall objective.

For example Toileting!

With my son Coleby, I used a task analysis or as some people would call it a communication board. This is used to break the task down into smaller tasks. Then each step is learned so that the overall task can be completed.

So the steps for toileting include…

  1. Recognize the need to use the toilet
  2. Toilet lid up
  3. Pants down
  4. Undies down
  5. Sit down
  6. Do wee
  7. Undies up
  8. Pants up
  9. Lid down
  10. Flush
  11. Finish – Well Done!

Practice makes perfect!

Everything takes time. Even if it feels like it is not working. Keep going and don’t give up!

Tips to Praise your child!

  • Don’t go overboard! – When your child achieves a task or part of a task make a big deal out of it but don’t over do it with things that they do every day. For example making a big deal out of your child eating all their breakfast! Your child will think that they have to constantly impress you or look for your reaction constantly!
  • High Fives! – A simple high five or a Yay is good enough! You don’t need to go buy your child a whole toy store or a lolly shop to praise their accomplishments. The more that you do the more your child will expect! With Coleby, I simply say Yay loudly and clap and say Go Coleby! To me, that is enough!
  • Point Out The Positives! – Every time your child attempts a new task or part of a new task, they won’t always succeed at first! Praising you child for their efforts or their attempts at new things encourages them to have another go! Negative experiences can make your child reluctant to try new things or have another go! So praise is important!

Ways to Encourage Your Child!

  • Use Their Favorite Toy, Song or Show! – When attempting a new task or part of a task, using your child’s favorite song, show or toy as a reward can encourage your child to do new things or try new things. For example: With Coleby, he likes spinning tops and at the moment we are trying to transition him from the bottle to a straw cup. I use the spinning top as a way to encourage him to use the straw cup. I will say “Coleby if you have a drink from your straw you can have the spinning top”. Coleby will have a drink then once the spinning top finishes he will want more spinning top! So first he has to do what I want him to do then he gets the spinning top again!

  • Do The Task With Them! – Mimicking or doing the task along side your child can encourage them to try new things or attempt new things. For Example: “Look at Mum, I am putting my shoes away. Can you put your shoes away?”.
  • Make A Fun Game Out Of The Task! – With my son Coleby, I was encouraging him to wash in the shower. I used ‘Simon Says’ as a way of encouraging him to learn the task. Coleby loves these types of games so it was really easy to implement and it was a great way for him to learn his body parts! For example, Simon Says wash your tummy, Simon Says wash your legs, wash your face – oh no I didn’t say Simon Says!
  • Turn Taking! – Some children are learning things that may be out of their comfort zone! And it may be pushing their boundaries and make them very uncomfortable! Taking turns of doing the steps of the task can encourage your child to have a go and it also makes them feel safe! For example: When teaching my son Coleby to wash his hands, I would get him to put soap on my hand first, then I would say “Your turn now” and he would put soap in his hands. I found that he is reluctant to try anything new by him self but if I did it then it was his turn he would then have a go!
  • Reward Charts! – These are charts that use stickers or stamps to reward your child for their achievements. It is a visual chart that your child can look at and see where they are. For example: If your child does something 5 out of 10 attempts they may get 5 stickers or stamps. But if they do the task 7 out of 10 attempts there may be some type of reward. Whether it’s half an hour on the iPad or they can watch a certain show etc. The reward does not have to be expensive or huge! It just has to encourage your child to keep trying!

Just remember:

That not every child is the same!

What has worked for my child, may not work for your child!

But it is all about trying and experimenting with things! Just trying to find that something that works for you and your child! Please feel free to leave a comment below on praise and encouragement strategies that

Please feel free to leave a comment below on praise and encouragement strategies that work for you and your child! I would love to hear them and I am sure that they would be helpful to someone else looking for answers.

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  1. This is a great resource to go to for potty training. My wife and I are trying to conceive now and I will need to go back to it when the time comes.
    I especially like the aspect of praise and encouragement. That is a great way to start helping your child develop self-confidence early on!

    • Hi Nik

      Yes, I tried a lot of different methods with potty training. But this is the process that worked for us. You can see it in more detail here:

      Praise and encouragement is very important! You will learn a lot when you become a parent for the first time! Good luck and best wishes, it will be an exciting time for both of you!



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