I have many parents and educators ask me about Praise and share their confusion with it. I’ll give it a go to explain it as briefly as possible.
And yes, there is such a thing as too much Praise. As parents and educators, we do not need to be praising everything a child does. With the research on Mindsets, it’s encouraged that we use praise sparingly and we focus on the process, not the outcome. When I first heard this, I could NOT get my head around it. It took me years to not reflex into the good boy and good girl praise. And after 12 years practise on occasions, I still reflex to it.
Praise is so significant because it is the way we champion and encourage a child. When we praise we use words, and these words become a child’s belief about themselves; there self-esteem and self-imagine hinges on their self-beliefs!
Do I want my child to believe he is a ‘GOOD BOY’?
Do I want my child to believe that he is an effective choice-maker, confident in pursuing his passions, capable of handling disappointments, and worthy of being loved and loving back?
So here goes… and I hope it helps in some way. Feel free to ask questions if you are confused. Trust me, I was too, but I’ve seen the benefits of long-term praise, and it’s WORTH IT!
NOT ALL Praise is created equal.
Think of white sugar, that instant hit that is not sustaining and over time with too much of it, it harms our brain, body and health in some way. White sugar praise like that instant hit with “good girl” is a quick short burst of energy that is not sustaining. I refer to this praise as FIXED mindset praise where we believe our abilities are fixed.
Growth Mindset Praise is like sustenance for self-esteem, a source of strength and nourishment for the mind. You have the choice of short bursts of quick energy that has no long-term purpose, or long-lasting sustaining Praise that safeguards self-esteem long term. I refer to this praise as a GROWTH mindset praise where our potential is unknown, and we have the capability of developing and cultivating our inner qualities as ever evolving.
White sugar Praise tends to be things like; good girl, good boy, well done, fantastic, excellent job, you’re amazing, you’re the best.
Sustaining Growth Mindset Praise; acknowledge the process not the outcome, praise the act, not the actor. It’s connection, not control that cultivates cooperation.
It takes a lot of practice to actively avoid the reflex of the good boy and the good girl praise and this is very much why I was so committed and passionate about creating the CAN DO TOOLKIT for parents and educators. If it is something you want to avoid, go easy on yourself and small steps. As parents, we don’t need any more pressure than we already have but I can share that less white sugar praise (fixed Mindset Praise) and more growth Mindset Praise brings you closer to the people you love and care about from your child to the people at your local pub and playground.
Growth Mindset Praise cultivates genuine self-esteem and confidence.
Think descriptive praise and not evaluative praise. Describe the inner qualities you see and want to champion rather than evaluate whether the behaviour or choices are good or bad.
I hope this brings more awareness towards the power of praise.