What data shows about praise that motivates children?

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I’m sure you have seen somewhere that praising your children is important.

In the distant past, there was the term “Spartan education,” but in recent years, I am sure you have noticed that praising children has become a mainstream concept to enhance their self-esteem and trust between parents and children.

I’m sure that many of you have had the experience of praising your children in your daily life, and have found that their motivation has increased dramatically.

Therefore, I would like to think a little about “praising children” in this and the next two articles.

First of all, let me briefly introduce the data on “praise” mentioned in the article.

Is it enough to just "praise" them?

In the paper, it was shown that praising children’s “effort” rather than praising their “intelligence” makes children more tolerant of “failure” and as a result, children who are praised for their “effort” do better.

This was published in 1998, so some of you may have heard of it. So, instead of saying, “You’re so smart,” we should say, “You did a great job.

In this study of fifth graders, children were told differently after solving the first easy problem: “You did well, you are smart (intelligence)” or “You did well, you worked hard (effort).

After that, the children try a difficult problem (the second one), but of course they cannot solve it well and experience failure. After that, the results of how the children in each group responded to the third problem are shown.

As you can imagine, the children who were praised for their hard work tended to solve more difficult problems and enjoy solving them more than the children who were praised for being “smart” in the third round.

Since this is not a survey of a large number of people, it may be dangerous to talk about it in general terms, but I still think it is not too far off from your own sensory experience.

Is "smart" a given from the start?

What is also interesting about the results of this study is that children who were praised for their hard work came to believe that intelligence is something that can be changed, more so than children who were praised for being “smart.

Think back to when you were a child. Remember when you were a child and your parents told you to study hard? or “Why is your score like this? When your parents said, “Study hard,” or “Why do you have such a low score?” one of the variations of what you would say was, “I’m not smart enough anyway.

Whether you are an adult or a child, you will work harder if you feel that you can change things, and if you don’t feel the possibility of change, you will not be able to work hard.

So, of course, it is very important for teachers and parents to speak positively about children’s efforts, but it is also important to convey the message to children that being smart is not something that is predetermined from the start, but can be changed through hard work.

In my next article, I would like to share my thoughts on how I pay attention to the “praise” in my classes, keeping in mind the “praise” in this paper.

Mueller & Dweck (1998). Praise for Intelligence Can Undermine Children’s Motivation and Performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Vol. 75, No. 1, 33-52

What can you do to promote a growth mindset in students? Mindset Works. https://www.mindsetworks.com/science/Teacher-Practices (as of 2020.02.21)

Visser (2020). Classic Study: The Undermining Effects of Intelligence Compliments

What can you do to promote a growth mindset in students? Progressfocused. http://www.progressfocused.com/2020/09/mueller-dweck-1998-classic-study.html (as of 2020.02.21)

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