Judgment, which can take the form of either praise or criticism, is the antithesis of acceptance. Acceptance is what creates feelings of belonging. All people, adults and children, seek to feel belonging. Try not to send a message of conditional love (acceptance) to your child by using praise or criticism. The scepter of judgment creates anxiety and pollutes relationships. To send a message of acceptance, use the language of encouragement instead.
Encouragement is about accepting a person, "warts and all." It focuses on effort and improvement, not on completion or perfection. It empowers children and others to create their own meaning and value from their experiences. It focuses on appreciation and the effect actions have on others. It is about intrinsic satisfaction.
Tangentially, my class today was focusing on acknowledging and validating children's feelings. Why is it so hard? Most people agree it because they never had a model for it when they were children. I started to wonder: Is my role as their teacher/guide/facilitator to help them heal so they can become the parents they want to be? And if it is, how can I do that? I realize that I can do that by accepting their feelings right now, by showing them how it is done, by validating their perceptions and experiences, by encouraging them to accept their own feelings and love themselves unconditionally, by giving them hope. I am honored by the trust placed in me and humbled by the awesomeness of the task.