Elementary Counselors Newsletter - DOC by JonStupar


									                            Counselor’s Corner
                                   Genevieve Lundberg
                                      October 2007

    Does Praising Our Children Work?                         What Can we Do?
  As parents, we want our children to have a       Praise can be extremely positive and
strong sense of self-esteem and inner belief     effective, but it needs to be the right
that they are smart and talented. We want to     kind of praise. Children can see through
ensure they have the confidence to pursue all    praise that is empty or not sincere. For
their dreams and the drive to persevere even     example, if a child is struggling with
when things get hard. The only way most of       something, parents tend to shower them
us know how to do this is to praise our          with praise, trying to help them feel
children up and down, telling them how           better. This rarely gives the child
smart and wonderful they are. After all, if      enough courage to complete the task at
we don’t praise them, who will? We               hand. The child still knows that he/she
definitely don’t want to risk having our         is struggling. Sometimes the child’s
children think that they are stupid and not      behavior will escalate to prove to his/her
capable of doing anything well. But, what if     parent how difficult the task really is for
our efforts to build confidence are actually     him/her.
backfiring and creating children who do not        Praise needs to be based on something
have the self-belief to try challenging          real – a real talent, skill, or quality. The
endeavors, and they lack the skills to deal      best kind of praise is specific. Think
with frustration?                                about what your child is good at or what
   For the past ten years, a psychologist,       makes him/her special. Now try to
Carol Dweck has been studying the effects        break those qualities down into tiny
of praise on students. In particular, she has    parts that you can specifically praise
been studying the effect of praising students    him/her for. For example, instead of
for their intelligence and being smart versus    saying, “You are so smart,” try saying,
praising children for their effort and           “I liked how you used some really
perseverance. Dweck has found that               descriptive words.” If your child plays
students who are praised for being smart         soccer, instead of saying, “You’re so
tended to avoid challenges for fear of not       good at soccer,” try to think of the small
looking smart anymore. They discounted           specific things he/she does well.
the value of effort. The thought is that if      Perhaps it is being a team player and
you are smart, things should come easily.        passing the ball. If your children are
When things become difficult, it then            struggling with something, empathize
becomes an indication that they are no           and acknowledge that it is difficult,
longer smart. In contrast, the students that     frustrating, and tempting to give up.
were praised for their effort were much more     Praise them for the specific things that
willing to try difficult tasks and persevered    they are good at, encourage them to
despite not achieving success right away.        persevere, support them through the
When children are praised for their effort,      process, and finally praise them for
they perceive themselves as being in control     fighting through the frustration and not
of their success. Dweck also found a way to      giving up.
improve the children’s test scores by simply     To view the complete article regarding Dweck’s
                                                 research and the inverse power of praise go to
teaching the children that the brain is like a   www.nymag.com/news/features/27840.
muscle - the more you use it, the smarter you

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