Praise children’s effort, not their intelligence

Parents who tell their children how clever they are may be doing them more harm than good, according to a study which found it is best to praise the effort rather than the child. This is from the Telegraph…

Congratulating a toddler by praising them directly can discourage them from working hard because they believe their abilities are “fixed” at a high level, researchers said.

In contrast, telling a child “you worked really hard” or “you’re doing very well” teaches them that reward comes through effort and encourages them to challenge themself.

Researchers from the University of Chicago and Stanford University examined how more than 50 sets of parents interacted with their children between the ages of one and three.

Psychologists filmed each family in their home three times over a three-year period and classified each instance where the parents praised their child in one of three categories.

“Process praise” occurred when parents commended their children on their effort or actions, “person praise” came when they complimented the child’s abilities, and a third category included general praise such as the remark “great”.

When the children were seven and eight they were tested to determine how they had developed, and the results were published in the Child Development journal.

Children whose parents had congratulated them for their effort were more open to taking on challenges, better at problem solving and more likely to believe they could improve themselves by working hard.

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