How not to praise your kids

I just finished reading an online article by New York Magazine, How not to talk to your kids. It talked about a lot of research that has been done over the last few years about the effects of praise on children’s performance — how not to praise your kids’ intelligence, but their efforts. So often we hear parents say “You’re so smart!” to their kids, and according to this article, you’re not doing your kids any favours with that kind of praise, because if they fail they conclude that they’re not smart after all and stop trying. If you praise their effort, however, research shows that they try even harder, they develop strategies to overcome difficulties and eventually do better.

I found it very interesting to read as the parent of a very clever little girl who often falls back on exclaiming “But I can’t!”, and that my dealing with it by saying with her “I can if I work hard” was much better than telling her she can because she’s smart.

In any case, if you’re interested, read the article. It’s 5 pages, which is not too long if you work hard. :-) And it’s interesting!

In other news, we’re having a great time with Ben’s dad here visiting. We’re doing all sorts of interesting things that I’ll share with you sometime soon!

3 thoughts on “How not to praise your kids

  1. I’ll be curious what sights in the city you are visiting with Uncle Bruce! Always good to get your latest blog post. : )

  2. Yes, I read this article too (or skim-read – I didn’t work too hard :-) ).
    I am very much dealing with that in my parenting at the moment too. I’m much more inclined to praise the outcome than the effort. So I’m having to work at seeing when effort is actually put in, and encouraging that (because it’s difficult to praise effort when the child immediately gives up as soon as she feels she “can’t”).

  3. I have read exerts from a very interesting book regarding this exact issue called “The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”…all about a Chinese woman who has raised her children in a very traditional Chinese manner which is to demand more of her children than is normally demanded by American parents. One of her main observations is that American parents praise too much and do not praise enough for specific efforts. In her mind, this promotes laziness in kids. To praise specific efforts means kids want to work harder. Lots of food for thought.

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