All Praise Is Not Created Equal: Personal Praise vs. Effort-Based Praise

We all want our children to grow up as confident human beings with  a solid foundation of positive self-esteem.  Sometimes, when we see a child struggle with self-esteem or confidence, we look for opportunities to praise them, in an effort to build them up. Of course, these intentions are nothing but honorable and well guided. However, new research indicates that the type of praise you shower on children may affect already delicate self-esteem and could undermine your good intentions. For example, highlighting a child’s personal qualities (you are a great swimmer!) may not be as fortifying as highlighting their efforts (I can really tell that you have been working so hard on your backstroke!).  In addition, research shows that children with low self-esteem receive more personal praise than those with higher self-esteem. And as such, their expectations for themselves become higher, as they always achieve to be the best or the superstar, which is an unrealistic expectation, leading to disappointment. Praising children for their efforts,  rather than focusing on the outcome, will help them boost their self-confidence and encourage them to continue pressing forward with their efforts.

Read more about this topic and research at   “Children & Praise: Why Certain Types of Praise May Backfire”, by Debbie Glasser, Ph.D

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