Our child shows you their most recent artistic creation. It’s a painting of a woman with long, slender legs, nobody, and a lot of hair. You’re the one. There’s a patch of yellow paint in the corner that’s supposed to symbolize the Sun, and several patches of purple paint next to it.
If you’re being honest, you’ve seen worse, but what do you say as your child waits for your reaction? “Wow, that’s incredible. It’s the most beautiful painting I’ve ever seen. “It’s absolutely fantastic,” Your child shouts as the picture is attached to the refrigerator door for the rest of the family to see and for them to leave comments or probably praise their work.
But is that the nicest thing you could have said? We tend to believe that everyone enjoys receiving praise and that it motivates us to work more.
But, when you look at the evidence, it’s not so simple. That all relies on how the sentence is worded.
In this article, You’ll read:
- How to properly praise your child?
- How praising affects your children?
So, what is the ideal approach to praising your child? The current paper’s lead author, psychologist Eddie Brummelman, suggests taking a step back and thinking about the message you’re sending so that you’re not establishing standards so high that your child fears failing to reach them in the future.
How to properly praise your child?
The traits you choose to praise could be an impact. Professor Carole Dweck of Stanford University discovered significant disparities between praising children for their abilities (telling them how brilliant they are, for example) and praising them for the effort they put in (saying “you worked extremely hard on that”).
In one experiment, when children were either praised for their hard effort or for being clever, the “clever” children played it safe and chose the following jobs they knew how to complete, and they were also more distressed if they failed.
Praising a child’s intelligence can educate them that it is a set characteristic over which they have no control.
It may make them hesitant to attempt anything new in case their high standards are not fulfilled.
Dweck suggests focusing on the steps a child takes to reach a goal. “I truly like how focused you were on that,” for example.
Whenever something has gone wrong, constructive feedback is required so that they can learn how to fix the situation.
Of course, this is strongly reliant on the child’s age. Any form of praise appears to encourage preschool children, but when they’re a little older, subtlety of appreciation is everything.
Psychologist Jennifer Henderlong Corpus offered 9-11-year-olds a challenge to solve and either complimented them for their character, outcomes, or approach to the work or gave them no praise at all.
She then set it up such that they failed the next assignment before watching to see what they’d do next.
They failed to handle failure well if they had been praised for their character at the outset of the study.
It actually demotivated them, but if they were praised for their achievements or the manner in which they tackled the assignment, they persevered.
What about mentioning how much better they’ve achieved than other kids? You would believe there’s nothing better than being told we’re better than everyone else, but the study says otherwise.
In the 1970s and 1980s, studies with adults revealed this type of praise. Does appear to boost the joy people get from the activity itself, a phenomenon referred to as intrinsic motivation.
Yet, it appears that this is not the case with children. Kids aged 9 to 11 were given a puzzle set to complete. “That’s wonderful work!” some were told afterwards.
You appear to be better at this than most children! “, or “That’s some of the best stuff I’ve seen from a kid!”
Others were commending their progress, such as “Great job! You’ve really figured out how to deal with these!”
They were then given another drawing exercise, but this time without feedback, so they didn’t know how well they did before choosing between an easy and a difficult activity and being asked if it’s fun to work hard.
They found that praise incorporating social comparison was worse than no praise at all. It seemed to sap their drive, pushing them to choose simple activities in the future, possibly out of fear of losing their top rank.
Yet, this only applied if they were unsure of their performance. When the girls and males received their grades, they acted differently.
The social comparisons benefited the boys but not the girls. They appeared to respond negatively when told they were doing better than others.
They seemed to interpret it as if what is important is beating other people rather than obtaining satisfaction from the activity itself, and as a result, their motivation was lowered.
It should be emphasised that the focus of these studies was on how praise affected children in the short term, rather than the long term.
Such studies would be significantly more difficult to do because you’d have to ensure that every adult was giving the children the proper kind of praise for several years.
Yet, evidence suggests that complimenting children for their effort, as well as the way they handled a task, is particularly beneficial in motivating them.
Yet if you’re applauding their results, it appears to be a misconception that there is no such thing as too much praise. Excessive praise could backfire.
Also read: Get Your Kids Outdoors To Reduce the Negative Effects of Screen Time