Praising our childrens' efforts instead of their talents

by - Monday, April 18, 2011

Shouldn't we praise hard work more than talent?
Earlier today, OH pointed out this article on the BBC News website which exalts the virtues of praising effort over talent in our children:
Intelligence-based praise orients the receiver towards the fixed mindset - it suggests to them that intelligence is of primary importance rather than the effort through which intelligence can be transformed. 
Studies cited in this article by Matthew Syed demonstrate a definite (and rather vast) improvement in students who have been praised for their efforts rather than their talents.

Reading through I began to realize that I've been guilty of praising talent over hard work.

And I'm feeling rather crap about that now.

It makes sense that children who are praised for being clever are less motivated: they fear losing their "talented" label and are less likely to take risks.

As the article explains, those who are praised for their efforts and hard work are likely to achieve more:

A full two-thirds of the students praised for intelligence chose the easy task - they did not want to risk losing their "smart" label. But 90% of the effort-praised group chose the tough test - they wanted to prove just how hard working they were.

I particularly like this last quote which offers a solution for how we can help our children achieve more through a change in the ways we praise them:
This reveals a radical new approach to the way we engage with children - that we should praise effort, never talent; that we should teach kids to see challenges as learning opportunities rather than threats; and that we should emphasise how abilities can be transformed.

Read through the article in full on the BBC News Website and feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below.

Matthew Syed is the author of Bounce: The Myth of Talent and the Power of Practice, which is available to purchase from Amazon.

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