Having just married, I naturally think about how I would raise my kids. I also ask myself whether success for kids is determined by effort or talent. What I didn’t think was that something a simple as the manner we praise our kids could have dramatic consequences:

Uncle Sams - IQ testsProfessor Dweck and colleagues made a research with this regards that simply shocked me. It showed how small nuances can impact our lives dramatically: In the study they divided a group of around 400 hundred kids in two groups and gave them an IQ test. They then praised kids in one of two ways. To one group they would compliment their intelligence and say things like: ” Wow, you must be very intelligent”. To the other group they praised the effort and said things like: ” Wow, great job, you must have worked really hard at this”.

Then they gave the kids the choice of taking a similar test, or a slightly harder one. Most kids who were praised for their intelligence choose the same level kind of test, while a majority of those who were praised for their effort happily took on the challenge of the harder test. The reason for this was that the first group believed they were being appreciated for their innate talents, and didn’t want to disappoint, while the second group assumed it was their effort and persistence that was being admired. This is why they were happy to take on the challenge.

In the next part of the study, all kids received an unsolvable test. Again, there was a big difference in attitude between the two groups. Those praised for intelligence gave up much quicker and felt extremely frustrated, while members of the other group worked harder, persisted much longer and actually enjoyed the process of trying to solve the riddle.

epSos.de - Happy Kids

In a final test all kids received a very similar IQ test to the first one they had been given. This is where the results stunned me. Those kids who were praised for their intelligence scored 20 percent worse than in their first test, while those kids that were praised for their efforts, did better by 30 percent.This study has been a real eye opener to me, as it demonstrates how small distinctions in the way we praise kids can impact their performance by up to 50 percent. It also scares me as it shows how easily we can say or so things that inhibit success in children. Therefore I will be looking out for more more research on this topic. Any recommendations?


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