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Why You Should Praise Your Children’s Effort But Not Their Innate Qualities

Why You Should Praise Your Children’s Effort But Not Their Innate Qualities

“Wow, you’re a really great artist!” “You’re so smart!” “You were born to sing!”

At first glance, you’d think these compliments would serve to motivate children as they complete whatever task they’ve set out to do. And, as far as the short-term is concerned, you’d be right. It’s definitely easier to get something done when you have others reinforcing the notion that you’re completely able to do it.

But what are these statements really praising?

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Compare them to the following:

“I like how you used different sized brushes in this painting!” “You figured out how to solve that problem, that was tough!” “Your voice sounds better and better every day!”

The difference is obvious: The first set of compliments simply serves to tell children that they’re “good at” something, while the second set actually praises their hard work and learned skills. Being told you have a gift certainly helps drive children to complete a specific task, but applauding their work ethic will keep them motivated throughout their lives.

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Praising Talent

Though it may seem counterintuitive, praising a child’s natural talents can actually lead to low self-esteem in the future. The child who’s been told time and time again what a great musician he is will become disheartened when he inevitably meets a peer who is a more accomplished musician than him. The so-called “gifted” child doesn’t take into consideration the fact that his peer may spend countless hours practicing multiple instruments on a nightly basis, but will rather just assume “he’s better than me.”

Discovering that he’s not the best will make this child afraid to try harder. Since he’s always “been good” at playing music, he’s never experienced failure. This unknown entity will ultimately block him from improving his talents any further, and he may end up quitting altogether. Despite having the talent to actually be the best musician around, his sudden lack of self-confidence hinders his ability to work hard to improve, leaving his actual abilities stagnant.

Praising Hard Work

On the other hand, imagine the parents of the other child. It’s likely they consistently praise their son not because he’s a “naturally-born musician,” but because he’s dedicated himself every day to becoming better at each instrument he plays. While he might have been born with a knack for playing music, it’s been instilled in him that talent only gets you so far – it’s your drive to do better that earns you true success.

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A child who grows up understanding the value of hard work and dedication won’t shut the door on trying things he’s “not good at.” He knows that practice makes perfect, and the only way to get better at something is to keep at it. Unfortunately, many children, and even adults, don’t understand this concept. So many otherwise intelligent people shrug certain things off by saying they’re “not good at it” (How many times have you heard an adult say they “aren’t a math person”?).

Those who understand the importance of hard work also aren’t afraid of failure. They don’t see failure as a roadblock; rather they see if as a bump in the road on the way to success. These children have been told over and over how amazing it is that they persevered through a difficult situation and came out on top. They also learn from the mistakes they’ve made, rather than let their mistakes define their entire being.

Lastly, those who are constantly driven to do better end up learning more than just enough to “get by.” While naturally-talented children may skate by on their God-given gifts by doing the bare minimum, those who work hard will gain more than just surface-level abilities. By raising the bar each time they reach a certain goal, they’ll continue to use their talents in conjunction with their efforts in order to reach incredible heights.

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Featured photo credit: First Kid’s 2012 Christmas Party and Talent Show / First Baptist Nashville via farm9.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

10 Famous Failures to Success Stories That Will Inspire You to Carry On

Failure occurs everyday, in school, jobs, housework, and within families. It is unavoidable, irritating and causes pessimism.

While the thought of flinging your hands in the air and walking away is all too appealing, take a second to connect with the people who have been there and survived.

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. — Henry Ford

Here are 10 famous failures to success stories around the world that will inspire you to keep going and achieve greatness:

1. J.K. Rowling

    During a Harvard commencement speech, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling outlined the importance and value of failure.[1]

    Why? Simply because she was once a failure too.

    A few short years after her graduation from college, her worst nightmares were realized. In her words,

    “I had failed on an epic scale. An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless. The fears that my parents had had for me, and that I had had for myself, had both come to pass, and by every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.”

    Coming out of this failure stronger and more determined was the key to her success.

    2. Steve Jobs

      The now revolutionary Apple started off with two men in a garage. Years later we all know it as a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees.

      Yet, almost unbelievably, Steve Jobs was fired from the very company he began.

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      The dismissal made him realize that his passion for his work exceeded the disappointment of failure. Further ventures such as NeXT and Pixar eventually led Jobs back to the CEO position at AppleJobs said in 2005:

      “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”

      Lost your job today? Keep kicking and you could be just like this guy!

      3. Bill Gates
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        Bill Gates was a Harvard dropout. He co-owned a business called Traf-O-Data, which was a true failure.[2]

        However, skill and a passion for computer programming turned this failure into the pioneer of famous software company Microsoft, and the then 31-year-old into the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.

        In his own words:

        “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

        This isn’t to say that dropping out of Harvard will make you into a billionaire, but maybe that shiny degree isn’t worth as much as the drive and passion to succeed.

        4. Albert Einstein

          The word ‘Einstein’ is associated with intelligence and synonymous with genius. Yet it is a famous fact that the pioneer of the theory of general relativity, Albert Einstein himself, could not speak fluently until the age of nine. His rebellious nature led to expulsion from school, and he was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.

          His earlier setbacks did not stop him from winning the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921. After all, he believed that:

          “Success is failure in progress.”

          To this day, his research has influenced various aspects of life including culture, religion, art, and even late night TV.

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          Just because you haven’t achieved anything great yet, doesn’t mean you can’t be an Einstein yourself.

          5. Abraham Lincoln

            Failing in business in 1831, suffering a nervous breakdown in 1836, defeated in his run for president in 1856, Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to rejection and failure. Rather than taking these signs as a motivation for surrender, he refused to stop trying his best.

            In this great man’s words:

            “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

            Lincoln was elected in 1861 as the 16th President of the United States of America.

            The amount of rejection you receive is not a defining factor. Success is still within your reach.

            6. Michael Jordan

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              “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

              This quote by retired basketball legend Michael Jordan in a Nike advertisement speaks for itself.

              It would be an easy misconception that Jordan’s basketball skills revolve around natural talent. In fact, in his earlier years,  basketball coaches had trouble looking past the fact that Jordan didn’t reach the minimum height. It was years of effort, practice, and failure that made the star we know today.

              7. Steven Spielberg

              217307-steven-spielberg

                Regarded as one of the most influential filmmakers of all time, Steven Spielberg is a familiar household name. It is surprising to realize therefore that the genius behind Jaws and E.T. had poor grades in high school, getting him rejected from the University of Southern California three times.

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                While he was in college, he caught the eye of executives at Universal, who signed him as a television director in 1969. This meant that he would not finish his college degree for another 33 years.

                Perseverance and acceptance of failure is the key to success, after all.

                “Even though I get older, what I do never gets old, and that’s what I think keeps me hungry.”

                Bad grades in high school aside, there is no questioning the genius involved.

                To date, Spielberg has directed 51 films and has been awarded three Oscars.

                8. Walt Disney

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                  Mickey Mouse creator Walt Disney dropped out of school at a young age in a failed attempt at joining the army.[3] One of his earlier ventures, Laugh-o-Gram Studios, went bankrupt due to his lack of ability to run a successful business. He was once fired from a Missouri newspaper for “not being creative enough.”

                  Yet today, The genius behind Disney studios is responsible for generations of childhood memories and dreams. From Snow White to Frozen, Disney will continue to entertain the world for generations to come.

                  The logic behind this is simple:

                  “We don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

                  9. Vincent Van Gogh

                    During his lifetime, Vincent Van Gogh suffered mental illness, failed relationships, and committed suicide at the age of 37.

                    He only ever sold one painting in his life, pinning him a failure as an artist. However that did not put a damper on his enthusiasm and passion for art.

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                    He would never know that years and years after his death he would become known as a key figure in the world of post-impressionism, and ultimately, one of the greatest artist that ever lived.

                    He would never know that he became a hot topic in art classes and his image was going to be used in TV, books and other forms of popular culture.

                    In the words of this great, but tragic man:

                    “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

                    10. Stephen King

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                      As a paranoid, troubled child, tormented by nightmares and raised in poverty, it is no surprise that Stephen King grew up to the title: “Master of Horror”.[4]

                      An addiction to drugs and alcohol were his mechanisms to cope with the unhappiness he felt with his life. The frustration he felt towards multiple rejections by publishers in combination with illicit substances caused him to mentally contemplate violence towards his own children.

                      These intense emotions were those that he focused onto his writing. And that’s why he said:

                      “We make up horros to help us cope with the real ones.”

                      Writing became his new coping mechanism, and this is how the master author we know today grew to success.

                      Fail more often in order to succeed

                      Like Albert Einstein said, failure really is just success in progress. If you’d rather not to fail, you will probably never succeed.

                      Success comes from moments of frustrations when you’ll be most uncomfortable with. But after you’ve gone through all those bitter times, you’ll become stronger and you’ll get closer to success.

                      Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, start failing, and start failing often; that’s how you will succeed.

                      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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