Starting from extremely early ages, we often like to praise our children for the things that they are able to do. Whether they learn how to walk, simply clapped their hands, or rolled over mimicking the dog, we feel inclined to praise them for it. Obviously, this isn’t really a bad thing – we want our kids to feel special. We celebrate in their accomplishments to the point that we might as well throw a party when they say their first words. It sort of feels like one when they do anyway.
Enter Ivan Pavlov – you might have heard of Pavlov’s Dog. It’s basically a theory he suggested regarding how positive and negative reinforcement or punishment can influence behavior in a person. Therefore, although we’ve always been led to believe that we should always encourage a child’s self-esteem – especially as they’re growing, when they need it most – the question remains: is it really helpful or harmful?
There is some new evidence that claims that the type of praise you give can actually backfire, making kids less successful in life, carrying with them an overall lower self-esteem.
This was detailed in an experiment that meant to define what type of praise was most successful between in children. But before we dive into this, we’ll first discuss the two types of praise that were experimented on: person praise and process praise. Person praise obviously relates to a person (You’re so smart!), while process praise relates to what a person does (You’ve worked really hard!).
Apparently, in the experiment, it was shown that children who were praised with the person praise, felt more ashamed following failure, which the researchers explained was because they felt that it was directly a result of their own failure. However, the children who were praised with process praise did not have this effect, which according to researchers, was because children would attribute the failure to a factor that they can control (their efforts, for example).
It seems like there is a right way to support your kids to grow in a way that will allow them to have the maximum amount of success in life. And maybe this is one of them. Trivial as it may seem, when you think about it, it does make sense. So start changing your kid’s life, and praise him the right way!