First of all, let me start by saying that all loving parents give their kids praise. How could you not? They’re great, you love them, and you want them to know you’re in their corner rooting for them.
However, the type of praise you give to your child may actually be more harmful than helpful.
When it comes to school, parents often respond to their kid’s accomplishments by saying things like “you’re so smart!”. While the intention is good, by saying this you’re actually praising your child for their intelligence rather than the effort that they put into their achievement. This can lead to children believing that they must either be naturally gifted or a hard worker.
The problem with children believing this, is that they come to associate effort or mistakes with low intelligence.
Children praised for their intelligence are more likely to avoid things that require effort. They are more likely to refuse to learn a new skill, do their homework, or study for a test unless they perceive they will do well at it. As a result they tend to underperform as well as respond poorly to failure in comparison to their classmates that are praised for their effort.
When you emphasize the effort your child puts into something rather than their intelligence, you’re giving your child something that they can control. They’re able to see themselves as being in control of their success, and so they are more likely tackle challenging tasks and persevere in the face of failure.
The bottom line? If you’re going to give praise, praise your child’s effort.
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