praising your children by adam kidanAs a father, I know how important it is to provide and look out for my children and be the best parent that I can.  That involves feeding and providing for them, but it also means supporting them in no matter what they do.  You want your child to be successful as an adult, so even if you want to coddle them, sometimes that’s not the best thing for them.  Your children need to understand the value of hard work and social skills, which will be important for the rest of their lives.  

Science has proven that one of the greatest ways to improve your child’s social intelligence is through praise.  Studies show that it helps motivate, build self-confidence and develop social skills.  However, all things in moderation; other studies have shown that too much praise leads to lower levels of motivation, lower performance and shying away from challenges.  Research suggests that praising your children on innate abilities means that they’ll be less likely to grow up wanting to excel.  The way to go is by praising the process rather than the individual.  According to Stanford University professor Carol Dweck, people in a “fixed mindset” believe that basic qualities such as intelligence are fixed traits, and don’t need to be improved and will naturally foster success, which isn’t true.  Yet people in a “growth mindset” believe that their abilities are developed through growth and hard work, which is more likely to breed success.  Dweck conducted a study with 373 middle school students who had both “fixed” and “growth” mindsets.  Those with “fixed” mindsets believed that any failure represented a lack of innate ability, while those with “growth” mindsets viewed it as an opportunity to improve.  

By praising your child’s work rather than your child’s inherent intelligence, you’re fostering a “growth” mindset.  Of course, praising your child is all about finding that sweet spot.  Over- or under-praising your child’s work can negatively affect their school performance and even cause depression.  It’s also a great idea to observe and comment on what they’re doing rather than automatically offer praise for everything they do.  This way, you’re offering feedback that they can use in the future.  Overall, praising your children needs to be done correctly: encourage a growth mindset, be authentic and offer feedback when necessary.  Be descriptive and specific, focus on effort and never be sarcastic.  That way, you’ll be able to offer constructive praise to your child that will help foster their development into wonderful adults you’ll be proud to call your own.

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