Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children Revised

The Power of Praise

  • Studies of the effect of praise by Dr. Carol Dweck used one group that was praised for being smart and another group praised for their effort. Those praised for effort were willing to challenge more difficult problems. Those who wanted to look smart avoided the risk of being embarrassed. They assumed that failure was evidence that they weren’t smart at all. Emphasizing effort gave children a variable that they could control.
  • Praise also needs to be sincere. Don’t assume that students aren’t sophisticated enough to see and feel our true intentions. Only children under the age of seven take praise at face value. Students who are falling behind often get drowned in praise. Teachers who criticize students convey the message that they can improve even further. Studies show that Chinese mothers are more critical but they do it in a kind way and smile and hug their children just as much as American mothers.
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