Thursday, October 12, 2006

Finding the Right Ways to Praise Kids

From Carol Dweck and her team, here's research that shows that providing generic or trait-related praise to kids ("You are a good drawer") is more likely to induce feelings and behaviors of helplessness when negative criticism about drawing is later received. Children who received more situation praise ("You did a good job drawing"), had fewer strong emotional feelings and were more likely to persist with drawing activities.

Yikes! This may catch a lot of us. When trying to foster positive self-esteem, it's possible we may be discouraging resiliency.

In other work (figure excerpt below), Dweck has found that beliefs about intelligence (whether it's a fixed entity or changable through experience or practice) had effects on trial and error learning - those who felt intelligence was fixed were less likely to learn from their mistakes, and ERPs suggested they were also devoting fewer attentional resources to challenging tasks.

How to Praise Kids
How Beliefs About Intelligence Affect Motivation

1 comment:

  1. Addendum: We were talking about this research while driving our kids to a computer class, and they had a totally different take on the study.

    They were mortified that the teachers criticized the preschoolers' artwork just to see what the effects of different praise were. They wondered whether the parents really knew what the study was going to be like - and they thought it was unethical!

    Grownups do take things for granted that children don't.