Telling people that they are intelligent and praising their natural talents might be doing more harm than good. What was once thought to be cute, natural encouragement might actually be more detrimental towards how people act. Praising people and nurturing their intellect is important, but there are ways to do that it that make it evil and counterproductive.
Why You Should Never Say A Child Is Intelligent
Praising a kid for being naturally smart might sound like the right way to encourage the child, but in fact it is not really a productive way to talk with children in the first place. Carol Dweck — a psychologist with 35 years experience in child motivation — has done plenty research on the harm that praise can have on children. When praising them for their traits, children will stop to seek out challenges, instead only continuing what to do what they are ‘good’ at. The child will then be afraid of failure and lose the current appraisal they are receiving. Instead of learning, these kids will begin thinking that intelligence is just a naturally inherited trait, so if they only seek tasks to prove their intelligence instead of focusing on how to learn. This fixed mindset can lead students to ultimately fail after a while when they are introduced to something that actually challenges them. This is one of the ways that praise can backfire on a child’s learning process.
How To Reward Children Effectively
Praising people cannot all be bad, right? When done incorrectly, nothing can be worse for the peoples — especially children’s motivation. There are, however, ways to successfully praise children and people for their efforts. That’s the key, it has to be for the efforts shown and not the outcome of whatever it is they did. When it comes to children and taking tests, say a person got a three out of ten on the exam. Instead of telling them to work harder or praise them for getting three right, it is actually best to point out that the work they did and the efforts they paid to get the right answer.
If a child is motivated and focused on their work ethic they will not worry about making too many mistakes, because they will seek out the best way to successfully fix it. As Carol Dweck noted in her research, “process praise keeps students focused, not on something called ability that they may or may not have and that magically creates success or failure, but on processes they can all engage in to learn.”