Simple Parenting

Praise Effort Over Achievement? Yes, But Flexibility is Important, Too

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As parents, we sometimes find books or articles that make us question the way we parent and try something new. This week, one of us found out that the way most of us encourage our kids may actually hurt them.

You’ve probably heard “praise effort not achievement.” But it’s not enough to just encourage kids to try hard (plus, it can sound patronizing). If kids are failing at something, doubling down often doesn’t help. They may need a new approach.

Instead of just praising effort, you can say things like “I see you working hard at this. What have you learned so far? What else could you try that might work better?” or, when your child succeeds,  “Awesome that you found a strategy that worked! How did you figure that out?”

Basically, you’re reinforcing the idea that with effort *and* flexibility, kids can succeed.

The book this came from is called “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” by Carol Dweck, if you’re interested in learning more.

Robyn is Editor-in-Chief at ParentsTogether and is co-author of several NYTimes bestselling anthologies. She lives in southern Michigan with her husband and five children.