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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 January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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