Praising your child’s efforts instead of their results may seem like a small detail, but it can have a big impact on their development and motivation. By focusing on the process rather than the outcome, you can help your child build self-esteem, resilience, and a growth mindset.
First of all, it’s important to understand the difference between praising effort and praising results. When you praise your child for their results, you are focusing on the end product of their work, such as a good grade on a test or a winning goal in a soccer game. This kind of praise may boost their ego in the short term, but it can also create pressure to constantly perform at a high level and avoid failure.
On the other hand, praising effort means recognizing and appreciating the hard work, persistence, and learning that your child puts into their activities. It’s about praising the process, not the outcome. For example, instead of saying “Great job on that math test, you’re so smart!” you can say “I’m proud of how hard you studied for that math test. You must have learned a lot.”
Praising effort has several benefits for children. It encourages them to try new things and take on challenges, even if they are not sure they will succeed. It also helps them develop a growth mindset, which is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be improved through effort and learning. A growth mindset has been linked to higher achievement and resilience in the face of adversity.
Praising effort also boosts children’s self-esteem and self-confidence. When children receive praise for their efforts, they feel valued and appreciated for who they are, not just for what they achieve. This can help them develop a healthy self-image and a positive attitude towards themselves and their abilities.
But how can you praise your child’s efforts effectively? Here are some tips:
Be specific and sincere.
Instead of saying “Good job” or “Well done,” try to be more specific about what you are praising. For example, “I like how you tried different strategies to solve that math problem” or “I admire how you kept practicing your soccer skills even when it was hard.” Be sincere and genuine in your praise, and avoid exaggerating or being insincere.
Focus on the process, not the outcome.
As mentioned earlier, praising effort means recognizing and appreciating the hard work, persistence, and learning that your child puts into their activities. So, instead of praising the end result, focus on the steps and effort that led to it. For example, “I’m proud of how you persevered and stayed focused during that long science project” or “I like how you listened to your coach’s feedback and improved your basketball skills.”
Praising your child’s efforts is not about comparing them to others or setting unrealistic expectations. Avoid phrases like “You’re the best in your class” or “You’re the smartest in the family.” These comparisons can create pressure and competition, and they can make your child feel inadequate if they don’t live up to them. Instead, focus on your child’s individual efforts and progress, and celebrate their unique achievements.
Emphasize learning and growth.
Praising effort is not just about praising the end result, but also about praising the learning and growth that come from it.