Parenting 101: Praising

by Amalia

* I decided to post the series of Parenting 101 that I found through the stuff I read (especially on Twitter), so that I can refer to it again when the time comes 🙂

Research study shows that praising children for their brain and intelligence can have adverse effects on them, especially with regards to their academic achievement. These so-called fixed-mindset children tend to:

  • Consider failure as a result of intrinsic factor, i.e. their intelligence. Therefore they tend to think that failure is beyond their control.
  • Put an extra emphasis on being smart and “looking” smart rather than trying as hard as they can (and learn from their success or failure)
  • Be more reluctant to make efforts and attempts, and to learn from their past mistakes or failure.

So what’s the solution?

Rather than praising children for being smart, parents should have praised them for working hard. On the successful completion of a test, parents should not have said, “I’m so proud of you. You’re so smart.” They should have said, “I’m so proud of you. You must have really studied hard.” Big difference. This appeals to your child’s controllable effort rather than to mysterious, unchangeable talent. It’s called “growth mindset” praise.

More than 30 years of study show that children raised in growth-mindset homes consistently outscore their fixed-mindset peers in academic achievement. For example, kids regularly praised for effort solve 50 to 60 percent more hard math problems than kids praised for intelligence. Because these growth-mindset kids believe mistakes occur from of lack of effort, not from a lack of ability, the kids know exactly how to remedy mistakes: simply apply more effort.

With regards to praising, I also have to agree with Nouman Ali Khan that praising someone (anyone, not only kids) boosts their ego. It does more harm than good, although I admit I praise people without me realizing hahaha… I have to be more careful next time!