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Child psychologist shares the type of praise parents should stop giving kids: ‘It holds them back’


Many parents view praise and appreciation as a motivational tool. When it comes to kids, however, that isn’t always true.

Actually, several studiesI have come across that when teachers give feedback to students, they convey messages that affect the students’ opinions of themselves and how capable — or incapable — they are of academic achievement.

As a result, child psychologistI have found that praises can be more damaging than helpful to children’s self-confidence, resilience, and learning ability.

What praise does for your child?

Carol DweckStanford University psychologist, Professor Judith Sullivan, studies the effects of praise on children over many decades.

In her research, she identified two core mindsets — or beliefs — about one’s own traits. These beliefs influence how we approach problems.

  1. Fixed mind.It is believed that your abilities and destiny are predetermined from birth.
  2. The growth mindsetBelieve that it is possible to cultivate one’s talents and abilities through perseverance and effort. 

According to her, people who have a fixed outlook tend to be unable to accept feedback, to give up easily, and to compare their successes to those around them. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, are more open to taking risks and comparing themselves to others.

Instead of focusing on the end result, praise the process.

You praise the process.The process, not the result. Your eye is sharp.According to Dweck, this is what allows children to develop a growth mindset.

It is a mistake for parents to praise children’s achievements. This hinders their ability to develop resilience and desire new things.

Parents who praise the process rather than the end are better for kids.

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It is important to encourage your children to learn, and then show them the way to succeed.

Imagine two kids on a track team. Imagine two children on a track team. The first is passionate about running, and the second is more athletic. Although the kid who runs is more passionate than anyone else, it still puts forth minimal effort in practice. He also wins first at almost every track meet. Although he pushes for a win, the second child is disillusioned because he doesn’t have one.

The parent should not praise or celebrate the child who is a natural runner but rather acknowledge the accomplishments. She will feel encouraged and supported while not implying her inherent ability as the key to her success.

His perseverance and hard work should be praised by his parents. He will be able to maintain his self-esteem, and it will help him stay motivated to succeed.

Remind your students that failure can create opportunity

Your child will be more successful in developing a growth mindset if you shift your attention from the accomplishments to their failures.

Encourage them to accept, understand and conquer their “weaknesses”. Encourage them to recognize their weaknesses and to accept that they can grow as they wish.

Imagine your child fails two math tests in succession. You don’t have to respond with “well this is disappointing” and “you aren’t studying hard enough”, but instead, react to the failure like it could be an opportunity for him learning.

Ask questions such as: “What’s this telling us?” What should we do next? Maybe we could talk with our teacher to learn more about this. Your child will learn that skills and abilities can not be limited. It is possible to help them understand the importance of cultivating their talents. This can make learning a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

The children who are passionate about learning and hard work know how to keep their commitments to their goals. They don’t mind working hard. And they understand the importance of overcoming setbacks. These lessons will help them in their daily lives.

Francyne Zeltser is a child psychologist, adjunct professor and mother of two. Her approach is supportive and problem-solving. She helps her patients develop adaptive strategies for managing challenges, and works towards achieving their short- and long-term goals. Her work was featured in NY Metro Parents and

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