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Power (and Peril) of Praise

I read an article recently that changed the way I praise children. We all know that praise is important, that it boosts self-esteem and can be very motivating. So we all tend to throw in a “good job” or “wow, you’re so smart” at the end of many activities. If praise is a good thing, then lots of praise is great, right? After reading this article, I completely changed the way I deliver praise. I have seen wonderful results. Children who had a tendency to give the obligatory one-attempt to get through a challenging activity are now pushing themselves and applying their best effort. This is an excellent read for parents and professionals, providing research and evidence for the effect of praise on children’s behavior and learning:

The most powerful message was the way children reacted to the phrase, “you must be so smart.” Or in my case in the clinic, “you’re so strong.” The kids in the study rationalized it in this way:

Since I could do it, that means I’m smart. That must mean if I can’t do it, I’m not smart. If I want to be smart, I must only try the things I know I can do.

How wonderful is it to find such a simple way to make a big difference in our children’s lives!

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