Happiness and praise

Happiness and praise

We start praising children when they’re in the cradle: “Oh, you drank all your milk. Good girl!”

And we keep it up right until they are adults.

But it turns out that all praise isn’t created equal and some may be actually harmful. It seems that when we’re singing our children’s praises, we need to pay more attention to the words of the song.

Some experts contend that fo cusing on children’s abilities (“You’re smart” or “You’re a good athlete”) can undermine children by making them feel like failures when they don’t succeed. Some studies show that praising the effort is a better way to encourage children.

“It flies in the face of what most parents believe,” acknowledges Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stamford University and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” (Random House, $24.95), who has researched praise. “They think that the greatest gift you can give your child is self-esteem in the form of praising their abilities and talents … I’m not arguing that self-esteem is not a good thing, I’m just saying that you don’t give it to children in this way.”

And it’s true that the research seems counter-intuitive. Who would think, for example, that telling kids they’re smart before a test might make them do worse? But experiments with 400 fifth-graders found that was the case. The experiment compared a group of children who were praised for being smart with a group who were praised for trying hard.

Praise and reinforcement is undeniably related to our happiness and to our children’s happiness. To read more about this interesting happiness book and the related research – click here.