Why do some children strive and others give up?

Why do some children strive and others give up?

by | Jul 1, 2023

Two types of praise that can change a child completely

According to psychologist Carol Dweck, after many years of research on children’s effort, motivation, and perseverance, she came to a curious conclusion. There are two types of children depending on their attitude to the effort:

1. Those who think that achievement and success depend on their talent and abilities or their intelligence.

2. Those who think that achievements and success depend on effort, work, and perseverance.

According to this research, children who think achievement depends on innate intelligence avoid challenges they think they won’t be able to achieve. They prefer to show their intelligence in those other fields in which they know they will excel. There are children who also show very little tolerance for frustration since for them an error becomes a sign of ‘low intelligence’.

However, children who think that achievements are achieved with work and effort, see perseverance as a form of personal growth. That is why they seem so stubborn and try hard to overcome an obstacle. A way of seeing life that will open hundreds of doors in the future, since they will see learning as an endless path and understand that you can always learn more and more.

Children try or not according to the type of praise they receive

Although it is hard for us to believe as parents or teachers, it is due to the type of praise that the child receives:

Praising the child’s intelligence or abilities: ‘You are so smart!… ‘; ‘You are good!’; “You are fantastic with mathematics’… ‘You did it so well…!

Praising the child’s effort: ‘You almost succeeded, it turned out better than the last time’…; ‘You can do this, keep trying’…;


Positive Discipline & Montessori Approach

“Encouragement is more important than any other aspect of child-raising,” said Adlerian psychologist Rudolph Dreikurs. “Each child needs continuous encouragement just as a plant needs water,” he said.

Encouragement differs from praise in the following ways:

• The focus is on the deed not the doer: “Good job” vs. “Good boy.”

• Acknowledges effort and improvement, not only the end result: “You’re working hard,” vs. “You did a perfect job.”

• Allows children to rely more on inner judgments and less on other’s judgments: “Do you like it?” vs. “I love it!”

• Doesn’t rob children of owning the accomplishment and turning it into pleasing adults: “Your grades reflect your hard work” vs. “I’m so happy you got all A’s!”

• Teaches HOW to think, not WHAT to think: “What did you learn, feel, think?” vs “You did it right.”

Key Steps to avoid praise:

· Make encouraging, not discouraging, comments:

“Let’s do that together.” “Can you climb up one more step?” “What would happen if you tried it this way?” “How can this be fixed?” “I have faith you’ll learn from this.”

· Allow children to try new things that might be beyond your comfort zone.

· Remember children are more capable than given credit.

· Include them in household tasks from an early age. See them as having something to offer.

· Use praise sparingly, like dessert. Let encouragement be their “meat and potatoes.”

· Comments should focus on the deed, not the doer.

· Acknowledge efforts put forth, not just results.

· Be specific with your comments.

· Show faith: You’ll get this, don’t worry.

· Ask: What do you think?

· Avoid comparative praise.

· Don’t overdo it; be authentic with your tone.

Watch Carol Dweck’s video on The Effect of Praise on Mindsets


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