Praising Effort, Not Performance

— Parent Inspiration
Updated on Aug 26, 2010

Good And Bad Ways To Praise Children.

What You Need To Know

Praising children is always good, right? Wrong. Recent studies at Stanford University show that there’s a right way to praise and a wrong way. Let’s start with the wrong way. “Timmy, another A on your math homework. That’s really great. You’re so smart.” Many parents believe that applauding their fourth grader’s intelligence will give him self-confidence. It will, but only momentarily. As soon as fourth grader Timmy comes up against a test with which he struggles, his confidence will vanish. “I thought I was smart,” he’ll tell himself. “I should be able to pass this test like all the others. Maybe I’m not so smart.” The risk of praising a child’s intelligence is that they learn to judge their self-worth against their performance. The subsequent danger is that the children whose performance slips, as Timmy did on harder tests, will lie to cover up their mistakes.

How You Can Help

So what’s the right way? Praise effort instead of performance. “Erin, you’ve worked really hard on this photosynthesis project, and you’ve finally got it looking great. I’m proud of the way you’ve stayed with it.” By applauding the effort taken to reach a goal, you’ll give your fourth grader the determination to tackle any problem, not just the easy ones. Children praised like this will maintain their confidence levels, retain their enjoyment of tasks, progress academically, and be honest about their grades. Academic development happens step-by-step – fourth graders who can deal with mistakes and keep working, will be better prepared for future challenges.

For more information on the best way to praise children, please see the full article:


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