Well done! How could it be cruel to say anything? It turns out that there is a dark side to praise; The effects have been thoroughly researched in children, but I believe that praise can have negative effects on adults as well.
In a newer New York Times articleAccording to writer Paul Underwood, parents have been told for years that it is better to preventively praise (and reward) the behavior our children are supposed to demonstrate than to wait to convict them of wrongdoing. But all the “good work!” With praise, children are more likely to develop performance anxiety, which can have long-term effects.
I’ve written before about perfectionism and performance anxiety. Millions of people suffer from a fear of failure, which can make them reluctant to try new things and lose joy in their accomplishments. Achievement anxiety is often rooted in a “fixed” mindset – the idea that your talent, intelligence, or abilities are limited to a fixed amount, probably what you were born with.
Attitude people believe that there is nothing they can get smarter or better at. People with “growth” mentalities believe that with hard work, they can improve their performance in whatever they may try.
As adults, when we praise something that a child has no control over, such as B. being pretty or smart, we strengthen a solid mindset. Even the ubiquitous “good job, buddy!” Can begin to combine “good” performance with parental love. You may wonder if their parents will love them as much if they don’t do a “good” job. The fear of losing the approval of their parents or teachers can worry them about the next test, the next class assignment, or the fridge-worthy drawing.
Young children may also be more motivated by praise than by actual work, which takes away the joy and fun of creating. If future tests, assignments, or drawings don’t receive the same praise, children may stop playing altogether.
Researchers who examined the effect of praise on children in the 1990s found that “children were afraid to challenge themselves for fear of abandoning their parents”. Dr. Grolnick, a professor of psychology at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, who conducted such a study, said praise can be controlling – “undermining a child’s enjoyment and motivation in certain activities by shifting the focus towards one parent’s satisfaction . “
That doesn’t sound much different from what I’ve seen in college classrooms and in almost every office setting I’ve ever worked in. The top achievers in a group are likely, and in some cases, most concerned about failure. the risk averse. “If I’m up because I did well on this assignment, will I be down if I screw up the next one?” They’re more concerned about making mistakes when they do the right things – which inevitably affects their performance.
How can you avoid this effect as a parent or boss? Psychologists recommend praising the process, not the result. Instead of saying, “You look so pretty tonight,” tell your 5-year-old, “I really like how you match your socks with your outfit,” or “I see you got two hair clips in your hair – that was a good choice to hold on to. ” support your pony. “
Instead of marking a drawing (or a technical report) as a good job, consider specific techniques that show effort or progress. “I can see how well you have captured the detail in the leaves of the trees. They really paid attention to how they look. “The way you added charts to the narrative makes it a lot easier to keep track of the complex data in this section of the report.”
When you notice and praise efforts or techniques, you reaffirm the idea that if you continue to work hard, they can improve. You build trust and encourage them to take risks. They will also increase their enjoyment of the task and the learning process, and focus on the end result that may be out of their control.
Praising what someone is in control of, like the decisions they make in solving a problem or creating something, also helps them connect with their sense of autonomy and the real pleasure of work. Paul Underwood writes that “innate qualities like being smart rather than making demonstrable decisions like perseverance” can actually do more harm than good. So let’s say “Nice job!” and “Great job!” on the shelf for a while and make more thoughtful decisions about how we praise our children – and each other.
Candace’s background includes human resources, recruiting, training, and evaluation. She spent several years with a national recruitment company and served employers on both coasts. Her writing on business, career, and employment issues has appeared in the Florida Times Union, Jacksonville Business Journal, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and 904 Magazine, as well as in several national publications and websites. Candace is often quoted in the media on local labor market and employment issues.
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