The Ways to Praise

As a parent in today’s world, we begin to think of how our child is going to measure up to the rest of the world.  We immediately begin comparing our child to the one next door, or down the street, or even in another country.  We begin early by encouraging reading and math, hoping that our child will surpass the other in intelligence, and we praise his high scores.

What we tend to do as parent, many researchers today are saying, is to reward our child with praise oriented towards their intelligence and too little on their process.  That praising a child for her intelligence often undermines motivation and effort to get to an end.

More and more research is showing that children being praised for being smart care more about performance goals and less about learning.  Those that are praised for their efforts feel that working hard and doing their best matters more.  While it may be the performance that wins the promotion or the gold medal, it’s the process that leads us to becoming resilient human beings, able to work through tough situations and feel good about being who we are, not what we are.

There isn’t a perfect way to raise our children, but there are things that we as parents can balance in their early stages.  We can help them to learn that the process of life has just as much value as the rewards.  We can help them to be happy with who they are, and find intrinsic value in life.  They will thank you for it.


Ref- Mueller and Dweck (1998) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology;  Vol. 75, No 1, 33-52

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 1998, Vol. 75, No. 1, 33-52



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