“Sure, he’s special. But new research suggests if you tell him that, you’ll ruin him. It’s a neurobiological fact.”
I’m not going to name any of the researchers’ names, quote any of the surveys or studies, give any of the statistics, or recount any of the given examples, etc. because you can read the well-written first chapter of the book, NurtureShock, for that…but here’s the premise.
-To boost a child’s self-esteem, parents who saturate their kids with the message, “you’re doing great because you are great!” are actually crippling them, that for example if you tell your kid constantly that they *are* smart, research shows it will actually cause them to underperform.
-that is because, “all praise is not equal”. If you praise someone sincerely for performance, (you are so smart), they begin to understand that it’s more about appearances and so will not risk making mistakes and in many cases when they are then required to put in a bit of effort, will quit, because that does not correspond with their belief of innate ability. If you are praising someone sincerely for effort (you worked really hard on that), there is perceived control over outcome, thereby resulting in greater persistence and therefore success.
-however, frequently praised children don’t become soft. Instead they become highly competitive, usually resulting in often tearing others down because “image-maintanence becomes their primary concern”.
SO, the suggestion is that we, as parents, should not only reign in our praise but hone it as well…making it specific, and all about process. That’s easier said than done, but from what I read, worth the effort.
Held up to the Light
Romans 12:3 says, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
This is what I really want my children to know. There is such a thing as pride and it is our natural bent. That it really isn’t about our abilities or our effort, but what we believe and trust and accept about God and His work. We can find our self-identity in our faith. and that faith is given to us as a gift from God…so there can be no boasting and brings us to humility which is the opposite of that natural pride.
So, yes, try hard! I will be your head cheerleader every time…and I will be careful how I word it. But know that I regard your character and faith above all else…that I will always unabashedly praise.