Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Inverse Power of Praise

Photo by Phillip Toledano as seen with the linked article.

I found this New York Magazine article very interesting. The basic gist of the article is that research shows that praising our children for being "smart" or "intelligent" will make them less likely to try new things and can actually hamper their confidence instead of building it up. Instead, it might be better to praise their hard work instead of their "giftedness." This really makes me want to re-think how I praise my kids.

I read one commenter on this article who suggested praising liberally with our children for virtue, but only praising for intellect when it is used to further virtue or in a virtuous way. I think there's a lot of truth to the concepts in the article. It makes sense to me. Any thoughts?


Sarahndipity said...

I just saw this article, too. I definitely get into the habit of praising ability over effort. Something that has helped me though, is a set of books with CD about character building. They're very silly songs, really, but the boys love to listen to them in the car while they look at the books.

There's one that goes,
Never give up! (clap, clap, clap)
Never give up! (clap, clap, clap)
Gotta stick to it, Gotta keep trying,
Never give up! (clap, clap, clap)

We've sung it during many opportunities requiring perseverance. The songs have helped me recognize those times when I can encourage attributes and character development, and then given me a place to start! We just sing the song and go from there.

After reading this article, i realized that I need to be more intentional about this, and that I need to dig that CD out again!

Here's a link to it on Amazon.

Soaring High said...

I know that if my parents had mainly praised me for my accomplishments, they'd have not said much. I was a very average child who never got an A until college. But, my parents never criticized or compared me to my (higher-intelligence) = ) siblings. Praise for hard work, kindness, consideration and good attitudes were doled out in heaps and bounds. I have a child who is testing off the charts right now(she doesn't get it from me). We really try to encourage her empathy and kindness and hard work and pretty much say good job to all her grades, but don't make a big deal out of them.

Jonathan said...

I haven't read this article yet, but I remember Aleasia sharing something similar with me 3 or 4 years ago. It made sense. I try, not always, but a lot, to praise J's efforts, especially with things that are hard for him, generally motor skills issues. He just figured out how to skip, which was VERY hard, and I remembered to say, "Aren't you proud of how hard you tried?" and he really was. :) I do try to praise for being helpful, kind, obedient, etc., a lot. Thank you for the great reminder!

Nova said...

I really needed this reminder - thank you!