Praise & Intelligence- more lessons on how to speak to my children

Awhile back I found an article disparaging saying “Good Job” to your child.  I still find myself struggling with what to say: nothing, “Good Job”, on observation of what occurred, a comment on their effort…. Enough to make a parents head spin sometimes!

For example, Br (3 3/4) has really struggled with completing potty training (the “#2” part).  At this point, I’m not real picky on whether he succeeds with the “right motivation”- we just want him to succeed.  However, when it comes to learning, acting like a decent human being, and most other things I would consider as my truly important job as a parent to convey to my child: I DO really care that he has the “right” ,& probably most important, internal, motivation.  But the whole problem with “internal” motivation is that it’s, well… INTERNAL!  Tough stuff to teach, but the most critical thing to fail on.

Today I found another article over on Parenting Science, also supported by studies :), looking at the way different types of praise effect motivation & “intelligence”.  Pretty interesting stuff.

For the hurried, here is the short cut & paste summary:

What’s important is to avoid praise that makes kids stop challenging themselves. The problem with telling kids that they are smart or talented is that kids become frightened of failure. They’ve been labeled and they don’t want to do anything to lose that label….

…Instead of telling your child she is smart or talented, try these alternatives.

• Praise your child for her strategies (e.g., “You found a really good way to do it”)

• Praise your child for specific work (e.g., “You did a great job with those math problems”)

• Praise your child for his persistence or effort (e.g., “I can see you’ve been practicing” and “Your hard work has really paid off”)

Praising kids for effort (and not innate ability) may help them develop a better mindset for learning.

What do YOU think?  Have you found a good way to respond to your children’s activities & attempts?  And what are you doing to guide your kids development of internal motivation? I’d appreciate any suggestions!

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