Wednesday, April 4, 2007

NY Mag: "The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids"

As the parent of a toddler, I find myself jumping up and down at the slightest response to any command I give or clapping like a buffoon when she does something correctly. I am on the encouragement bandwagon and focused on not making my child feel unworthy, especially having grown up in a conservative and stereotypical Asian environment where praise regarding one's intelligence wasn't exactly part of the daily conversation.

Then I read this eye-opening article by Po Bronson on Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise; I had heard something similar in the past, but the basic point was so well-articulated here that it really stuck with me and is worth including here for parents to read. In short, how you phrase your praise may affect your child's estimation of their own abilities.

His concluding quote really hit it home for me:
"Offering praise has become a sort of panacea for the anxieties of modern parenting. Out of our children’s lives from breakfast to dinner, we turn it up a notch when we get home. In those few hours together, we want them to hear the things we can’t say during the day—We are in your corner, we are here for you, we believe in you.

In a similar way, we put our children in high-pressure environments, seeking out the best schools we can find, then we use the constant praise to soften the intensity of those environments. We expect so much of them, but we hide our expectations behind constant glowing praise. The duplicity became glaring to me."

You learn something new everyday.

1 comment:

Suzie said...

This is really interesting! Along this line, I recently read an article that I found also very enlightening. The researcher talks about believing you are talented may actually set you back in the long run. The short summary is that if you believe that you are talented or have "inherent abilities" then you are more likely to just give up when you fail. However, if you believe that your attainment of success or achievement is related instead to your effort, you are more likely to work to success.

The following link tells more: