- Posted by Marie Kelly
- On May 29, 2017
The act of overpraising children coupled with self-esteem fixed or growth mindsets have been hot topics for quite some time. Below are some considered excerpts from various publications in the form of bullet points for ease of reading. It certainly provides food for thought
Many argue that kids today are rewarded not for their achievements but simply for their existence, i.e., breathing. “We need to stop endlessly repeating ‘You’re special’ and having children repeat that back,” says Jean M Twenge, Generation Me – Revised and Update)
- Richard Handler refers to Carol Dweck’s research which reasons self-esteem flows from the opposing characteristics of the mind: fixed vs. growth mindsets.
- Fixed mindsets are rigid and those with this quality believe their talents and abilities were given to them at birth and are set in stone.
- By contrast, people with a growth mindset believe there’s always room for more learning and mental development. They’re eager to add new dimensions to their lives.
- Self-worth, according to her findings, is promoted by the right mindset, which is affected, in turn, by the praise we receive.
- In a series of tests, she divided grade-school children into two groups, randomly selected. First, her researchers gave both groups an easy test. Then they praised one group, individually, for their intelligence, an innate ability. The researchers told the kids in that group: “You must be smart at this!” Dweck’s researchers praised the second group for their effort: “You must have worked really hard.” Then they gave both groups another, much harder test. That’s when the experiment got interesting. The group that had been praised for effort significantly outperformed the group praised for their brains. Amazingly, this result occurred after a single incidence of feedback. Imagine what the difference would be over a decade or lifetime!
“Praise should deal, not with the child’s personality attributes, but with his or her efforts and achievements.”
- Dweck tells us that the more you reinforce kids for being smart, the more you build in a fixed mindset, so when they encounter a bigger challenge, they’re stymied: they no longer feel so smart–which creates a disincentive to try. In short, they can become paralyzed.
- By contrast, reinforcing for effort communicates the message that if you aren’t good at something at first, you can improve with work. This creates a growth mindset. Children then rise to a challenge, and don’t shy away from difficult assignments. A bad mark isn’t a defeat for a child with a growth mindset: it’s a spur to work harder. As one child put it: “I think intelligence is something you have to work for. . . . It isn’t just given to you.” Dweck adds, with a growth mindset, “the bigger the challenge, the more you stretch.”
What is the message: Resist praising an innate quality, instead praise for effort.