Have you ever said “Good job!” “Way to go!” or “You’re so smart!” to your child? These are common phrases parents give their children as a way to celebrate a success or to offer encouragement. Praise is often used by parents and caregivers to build children’s self-esteem or to motivate them. Did you know that not all praise is the same?
There are different types of praise and research has shown a difference between
. Person praise focuses on what an adult thinks and evaluates a child’s traits, for example, “I love your picture” and “You’re so smart!” This type of praise tends to be general and encourages children to do things to please adults and obtain their approval versus being proud of their own accomplishments. Studies on praise have shown that person praise can reduce a child’s motivation, because it encourages a fixed mindset. This means that accomplishments are viewed as something you are born with or naturally have or do not have.
In contrast, praises like “Look at all the different colors you used on your picture” and “Wow! You worked hard putting the puzzle together” are examples of process praise. Process praise focuses on the child’s effort, points out specific facts and is non-judgmental. It also provides encouragement to children to continue with their work or effort. Children who receive process praise are likely to develop self-motivation and pride in their own work. Additionally, this type of praise has shown to encourage children to take on challenges. Because process praise is specific and encourages a growth mindset, children receive information that teaches that effort can lead to success.