Appreciation works wonders in boosting children’s morale

What you need to know:

  • From praising their accomplishments to empathising with their struggles, appreciation plays a pivotal role in shaping children's self-perception, behaviour, and emotional well-being.

Children are unique individuals with their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Recognising and appreciating this fundamental truth is essential for fostering their holistic development.

Appreciation, in the context of child-rearing, encompasses a range of actions and attitudes that convey value and respect for children's inherent worth and potential.

From praising their accomplishments to empathising with their struggles, appreciation plays a pivotal role in shaping children's self-perception, behaviour, and emotional well-being.

Juma Hamduni, 9, a primary school student in Dar es Salaam, shares how it feels to be appreciated.

"When my teacher tells me that I did a good job on my math homework, it makes me feel happy and proud. It's like a little spark inside me saying, 'You can do it.' It makes me want to try even harder next time."

Similarly, Faudhia Ramadhani, 10, says she feels sad and gets frustrated when she can't grasp what she’s being taught in class. However, when her friends or the teacher take the time to help her, it makes a big difference.

“When they say, 'You're doing your best, Faudhia,' it feels like a warm hug. It gives me hope and makes me feel like I'm not alone."

For Salim Salum, 11, appreciation from his classmates means the world to him. "When my friends say 'good job' after I finish reading a story aloud in class, it makes me feel like a superhero. I feel happy and confident, like I can do anything."

Lilian Mwinjuma, 11, emphasises the importance of appreciation in building positive relationships.

“When my teacher listens to my ideas during group projects and says, 'That's a great idea, Lily,' it makes me feel respected and valued. It strengthens our bond as a class and makes me want to help others more."

These heartfelt sentiments underscore the transformative power of appreciation in the lives of children. Whether it's a word of encouragement from a teacher, a supportive gesture from a peer, or a kind acknowledgment of their efforts, it makes them feel better.

Parents play a vital role in shaping their children's educational journey and emotional well-being. Their perspectives on the impact of appreciation offer valuable insights into the broader significance of recognising children's efforts and accomplishments.

Monica Sarungi, a mother of two, reflects on the importance of appreciation in nurturing children's self-esteem.

She shares, "It warms my heart when my children come home from school with a smile on their faces because their teacher praised their hard work. It's not just about academics; it's about building their confidence and resilience for life."

Amani Haruni, a father of three, emphasises the role of appreciation in strengthening the parent-child bond. As a parent, seeing his children feel valued and appreciated by their teachers and peers gives him joy.

“It strengthens our relationship and opens up channels of communication. When they come home excited to share their achievements, it strengthens our family bond."

Rehema Kimeni, a mother of one, says appreciation is the cornerstone of motivation and perseverance.

She says that when teachers praise students’ efforts in class, it motivates them to keep pushing themselves. Rehema says it serves as a reminder that hard work pays off and that they are capable of achieving great things.

Abdallah Mwangi, a father of six, says appreciation has a broader impact on society. He says that when children feel appreciated and valued, they become more compassionate and supportive of one another.

“It creates a ripple effect that extends beyond the classroom, shaping the fabric of our community and fostering a culture of kindness and empathy," Mr Mwangi shares.

Teachers stand as beacons of guidance and support, shaping the educational journey of their students with care and dedication.

Fostering a positive learning environment

Their insights into the impact of appreciation offer a nuanced perspective on its role in fostering a positive learning environment and nurturing students' growth and development.

Ms Elizabeth Kombo, a primary school teacher in Dar es Salaam, shares her experience regarding the transformative power of appreciation in motivating students.

"Taking the time to acknowledge students' efforts and achievements ignites a sense of pride and motivation within them. They become more engaged in learning and are eager to take on new challenges.”

The teacher says appreciation fuels students’ enthusiasm and sets the stage for academic success

Another teacher, Mr Joseph Magori, highlights the importance of building meaningful connections with students through genuine appreciation.

Feeling valued and appreciated in the classroom creates a sense of belonging and trust. Students become more open to learning and are willing to take risks because they know their efforts will be recognised and celebrated.

Ms Grace Christopher, also a teacher in Dar es Salaam, says that appreciation is a tool for nurturing students' self-esteem and confidence.

She says praising students for working hard and perseverance boosts their self-confidence and self-belief.

“They begin to see themselves as capable learners who are capable of overcoming challenges and achieving their goals," she explains.

John Semunge emphasises the role of appreciation in fostering a sense of community and collaboration among students. According to him, feeling appreciated by peers and teachers creates a culture of kindness and support in the classroom.

Students become more willing to help one another and work together towards common goals, knowing that their contributions are valued and respected.

In the child psychology field, appreciation serves as a cornerstone of healthy emotional development and overall well-being. This is according to a psychologist from the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dr Isaac Lema.

Dr Lema says that appreciation plays a crucial role in shaping children's sense of self-worth and identity.

"When children receive genuine praise and recognition for their efforts and accomplishments, it reinforces their belief in their abilities and fosters a positive self-concept. This, in turn, contributes to greater resilience in the face of challenges and promotes a healthy sense of self-esteem."

The psychologist says that the role of appreciation is to nurture positive relationships and social-emotional competence.

"The feeling that they are appreciated and valued by their carers, peers, and teachers strengthens the children’s sense of belonging and connection to others. This lays the groundwork for healthy interpersonal relationships, empathy, and social skills, which are essential for navigating the complexities of the social world," Dr Lema says.

He highlights the therapeutic value of appreciation in supporting children's emotional well-being and mental health.

"In my clinical practice, I often witness the profound impact of appreciation on children's emotional resilience and coping mechanisms. When children feel appreciated and supported, they are better equipped to regulate their emotions, manage stress, and navigate life's challenges healthily and adaptively," he shares.