An absolutely fascinating article on the way praise for children can actually be harmful to their self-esteem, and their willingness and ability to try new things and persevere. It seems that good, old-fashioned emphasis on effort and not giving up is much more valuable for kids. (And probably for adults, too.)
And the results aren’t minuscule.
Having artificially induced a round of failure, Dweck’s researchers then gave all the fifth-graders a final round of tests that were engineered to be as easy as the first round. Those who had been praised for their effort significantly improved on their first score—by about 30 percent. Those who’d been told they were smart did worse than they had at the very beginning—by about 20 percent.
And there’s more. This really blew my mind.
Psychologist Wulf–Uwe Meyer, a pioneer in the field, conducted a series of studies where children watched other students receive praise. According to Meyer’s findings, by the age of 12, children believe that earning praise from a teacher is not a sign you did well—it’s actually a sign you lack ability and the teacher thinks you need extra encouragement. And teens, Meyer found, discounted praise to such an extent that they believed it’s a teacher’s criticism—not praise at all—that really conveys a positive belief in a student’s aptitude.
Read the article. It just might change the way you talk to your children.