“You were awesome on the soccer field today!”
“You are so smart!”
That’s what we do right? We’re moms, it’s our job to praise our kids-right? We want to give them the confidence that they can do anything and succeed at life’s challenges.
Well, yes, I do think that we are supposed to be our kids biggest fan, but there is some research out there that tells us we may not be praising them the way they NEED to be praised if we want to help them grow and learn.
Research shows that the wrong kind of praise can lead kids to lose self-confidence, not gain it. It also shows that they may do worse in school, not better.
When we tell them that they are smart…kids can become fixated on maintaining the image of smart, and then choose only projects that they know they will do well on.
Kids were tested on the effects of praise. They were given identical assignments, but one child was praised for their intelligence and the other was praised for their effort:
“You are so smart,” and “You must have worked hard on these problems.”
The results were that the child told that she was smart obsessed about whether or not she appeared smart or not smart. When given a choice, she would not challenge herself but would stick to problems that she knew she could do well at. It essentially made her feel more vulnerable, and she didn’t have the confidence to take chances.
But the child who was praised for his effort was not afraid of challenges and he was willing to risk failure and not looking smart. He chose difficult problems and even when he didn’t do well, he felt confident that he had tried. His confidence came from his parents approval and praise for hard work and taking risks.
That’s what we want, we want our kids to be willing to risk new things and not worry about failure but take a chance, step out and attempt to solve difficult mental problems.
Research shows that mental challenges are what build intelligence, they actually have a physical affect on the brain. Neurons and pathways are connected and formed as we challenge our brains.
So, praise is good, but let’s make sure it’s the right praise. Praise their efforts and willingness to try new things. And never stop telling them you love them. We can not overdo “I love you!”
I gathered much of this information from this excellent video: The Myth of Praise
Here is a book to the author of the research, great stuff on their website: Nurture Shock
If you’re not in the West Michigan area you can listen to my segments every Tuesday at 7:05 AM EST live on iHeart Radio anywhere in the world!
Check out Tommy and Brook’s page online at West Michigan STAR: Tommy and Brook
Their Facebook page: Tommy and Brook
And their Twitter: @TommyAndBrook