It is often said that praising students for their good performance at school is a good thing. However, there’s a reason that praising could also sabotage the effort of our children. In this case, it is important to prevent students from having a fixed mindset. They could start to think that they will have to consistently prove their ability, in terms of scores and grades. They want to represent themselves as flawless and smart individuals. They could also think that outcome is the more important thing. On the contrary, it is more important to allow children to have a “growth” mindset.
It means that students will think that all efforts are good and they are motivated to become more effortful, regardless of the final results. They are genuinely interested of growing more and being challenged to do good things. Students shouldn’t focus only on scores and grades; but also becoming more understanding about topics taught at schools. Instead of being pressured to appear smart, students become more flexible and they can be more creative in figuring out alternative methods to a problem. Eventually, students will think that process is everything. Parents and teachers shouldn’t praise only on scores and grades.
This could cause students to see grades as an indication of their self-worth at school. In this case, many well-performing students could become devastated when they occasionally get mediocre grades. It means that students could become more depressed and in some cases, they could stop making an effort. Students that are given improper praises could see bad grades as their kryptonite. They could become mentally weak, when they obtain B+; because they think that it is important to maintain the straight-A status. Excessively high standard could cause students to feel becoming inadequate.
It is quite unfortunate that parents and teachers can be quick in providing praises; for good scores and grades. However, it is possible that we will get damaging messages. It means that our motivation can be extinguished by improper praises. As an example, parents can say that their children are so smart, because they learn so fast. However, children could think that they won’t be smart, if they don’t learn fast. This could cause internal pressures among children. Parents may also praise their children as the next Einstein; because they are able to use a complex equation.
Unfortunately, this message can be internalized in a wrong way. Children may think that they are not “Einstein”; if they can’t use other complex equations with the same results. Parents also shouldn’t say that their children are so brilliant, because they are able to get an A without studying. In this case, children could try to hide when studying or even stop studying completely, because they don’t want to lose the “brilliant” status. When praising children, it is important not to harm their motivation. Each praise should be followed by proper explanation on proper concepts.