If you are a regular visitor to this site, you are probably familiar with many of the coaching tips I give parents. Some of them are related to praising kids. But praise can take on many forms, so which is best?
Yesterday, I wrote about Prof. Carol Dweck’s research on the difference between praising effort vs. praising natural talent. I encourage you to read about this research (if you have not already), because it highlights some of the issues with the impact of praising on kids’ self-esteem.
One big question that came out this research was “What can parents and schools do to still build kids’ self-esteem and enhance their performance (possible after the “mistake” of telling the kids how smart they are)?
Dr. Lisa Blackwell, Dweck’s assistant, conducted a research to improve kids’ math scores using the knowledge and information gathered in her work with Dweck.
The brain as a muscle
Dr. Blackwell worked with 700 students in a low-achieving school. She split the kids into two groups and ran 8-session workshop. She taught one group math and taught the other group math plus 2 special lessons that showed the kids how intelligence can be improved.
Dr. Blackwell showed the second group slides about how the brain functions and told the kids the brain grows when challenged. Not long after, the teachers, who did not know which kid belonged to which group, could tell the difference between them. The kids who had received the lesson about the brain improved both their attitude and their math grades.
Surprisingly, the amount of math tuition the 2 groups received was the same. The improvement in math scores and attitude was a result of the 2 extra lessons (a total of only 50 minutes), in which the kids were taught the brain is like a muscle and the harder your work, the smarter you get.
I am sure you know now what you need to do.
So, over the weekend, tell your kids they can develop their brains and become really smart by doing math, reading, painting, playing music or anything you think is good for them and then come back and share your experience.
Join me on Monday for the next chapter of How to Praise Your Kids to start looking at the factors influencing praising. First up is sincerity.
As parents, our kids present daily challenges to us and often force us to grow as people. In a way, they exercise our brains too, so we are pretty lucky to have them, no?