Praise is a tightrope. Reward and encourage your children but not to the point that they enter the world convinced they’re flawless geniuses.
Failures and knockbacks are inevitable yet will be extra-difficult if greatness is key to your child’s sense of identity.
Praise effort rather than talent or results. A Columbia University study found that children praised for being smart weren’t as motivated by those praised for working hard.
It’s easier to control how much effort you’re putting in than how clever you are.
Rewarding talent over effort can give children the impression that the learning process is finished: working hard at maths is a continuing process while being great at maths is a done deal.
Include personal qualities in praise. Praising them for being kind – responsible – brave or creative is more constructive than doing so for being excellent – wonderful or amazing.
Be specific. Don’t underestimate the value of a word like ‘because.
Their drawing is great but why?
Because they took their time?
Because they included lots of details?
Because everyone in it has the right number of legs?
An explanation will do more to help them improve than a ‘That’s so great!’ approach.