Good parenting: Praising kids for their efforts helps them overcome challenges in future
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Parents who want to encourage their little ones to take the right attitude to overcoming challenges should praise their efforts rather than the children themselves, a new study suggests.
According to the study, toddlers whose mothers and fathers applauded their efforts more than they praised them as individuals had a more positive approach to challenges five years later, the Daily Mail reported.
And researchers also found differences in the kind of praise that parents offer their children, depending on whether they are boys or girls.
Study leader Elizabeth Gunderson, now Assistant Professor of Psychology at Temple University, but who was at the University of Chicago at the time, said: "Previous studies have looked at this issue among older students."
"This study suggests that improving the quality of parents' praise in the toddler years may help children develop the belief that people can change and that challenging tasks provide opportunities to learn," she said.
Parents praise their children in a variety of ways. They might say, "You worked really hard" after completing a challenging task or "You're a very smart girl".
Or they might offer general comments such as "Great" or "You got it".
Dr Gunderson said that while all of these phrases sound positive, previous research has shown that they have different effects.
Process praise, when parents praise the effort children make, leads children to be more persistent and perform better on challenging tasks.
Personal praise, praising the individual, on the other hand, leads children to be less persistent and perform worse on such tasks.
She said this is because process praise sends the message that effort and actions are the sources of success, whereas person praise sends the opposite message - that the child's ability is fixed.
The findings are published in the journal Child Development