Commendable Behaviors of Children

What Behaviors Should Be Applauded?

by Beyza Nur Öztürk

A child’s behaviors based on reinforcement come from the environment. If you want to increase your child’s positive behaviors, you can reinforce them. How do you promote commendable behaviors?  Some parental behaviors mean a lot to the child, even if they don’t realize it. For example, when you see your child’s positive behavior and applaud, you see your child smile at you and repeat the same behavior. How is the meaning of applause, praise or reward perceived in children?

Understanding Commendable Behaviors

What does the applause mean for children?

Applause is a type of praise expressed by the act of clapping. It is a sign of enjoyment and approval (1). So, what is the applause for children? Applause tells the child that we like a child’s behavior. Thus, we encourage the child’s efforts in terms of commendable behavior. For example, when we see a baby walking, we clap for it. In this case, you will see the babies look at you, smile, and repeat the behavior. You see that babies try harder when they see the behavior approved by clapping (2). In this respect, you increase the behavioral development of the baby. But every reinforcer has a rate of use. 

How much applause should we use?

How much applause should we use?

Reinforce the desired behavior, but don’t use it excessively because applauding every behavior creates an expectation in the child. The child becomes addicted to it, in other words, addicted to being approved. In such a case, you can see that the children question themselves in every autonomous step they take in the future (3). Sometimes you see that they get upset and angry if their expectation is not fulfilled. Therefore, the child’s independence is related to the reactions you give.

What behaviors should be applauded?

Behaviors should be applauded, but too much of it can limit the child’s autonomy. To distinguish between commendable behaviors and others, you need to know a few things:

Applaud for things the child can control

Children’s autonomy is one of the most important values. Therefore, it will be helpful to applaud things over which children have control, such as their choices when solving a problem or drawing a picture. In such activities, the expectation will be realistic (4).

Be aware of the degree of applauding 

If we want to increase positive behaviors in children, we encourage them by applauding. For example, when your children get a high grade in school or help someone, you applaud them for promoting them. However, the high degree of applause can cause addiction in children. Thus, they perform to get approval which may cause a behavior disorder (4). So, what behaviors should we applaud?

Applaud children’s ability

commendable behaviours

The words you say about children’s character can be addictive even if they have a positive meaning. If you are applauding your child’s personality, for example, “you are a very smart kid”. This may cause conflict in your child. “Am I not smart when I do not exhibit this behavior?” may have such a thought. On the contrary, applauding to encourage them for their abilities can help move forward (5). For example, applauding can be used to encourage your child to swim. In other words, motivate them through performance.


  1. Wauran, M. (2020). Clapping In Seventh-Day Adventist Worship. Klabat Theological Review, 1(1), 33-48. doi:10.31154/ktr.v1i1.464.33-48
  2. (August 31, 2020). Praise, encouragement, and rewards. Retrieved from:
  3. Brummelman, E., Nelemans, S., Thomaes, S., & Orobio de Castro, B. (2017). When parents’ praise inflates, children’s self-esteem deflates. Child Development, 88(6), 1799-1809. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12936.
  4. Underwood, P. L. (Aug. 13,2020). Are You Overpraising Your Child? Retrieved from: 
  5. Gaines, L. M., Duvall, J., Webster, J. M., & Smith, R. H. (2005). Feeling good after praise for a successful performance: The importance of social comparison information. Self and Identity. 373-389. doi:10.1080/15298860500280223

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