Recent studies indicate that how parents and educators give praise or reward for a student’s success can have a direct effect on their mindset.
Many students develop mindsets throughout their schooling. A fixed mindset is the belief that accomplishments are trait-based and tied to pure intellect and natural ability. In contrast, a growth mindset is the belief that one’s intelligence can be grown or developed with persistence, effort, and a focus on learning.
When students have a growth mindset, they take pride in their efforts and hard work instead of what the report card says; they are more willing to make mistakes, accept challenges, and grow as learners.
How to Foster a Growth Mindset using Praise
It’s important to help students develop a growth mindset because it can greatly impact their academic achievements and future success. To help encourage this, parents and educators can learn how to praise students using a growth mindset.
Here are a few tips on praising your student using a growth mindset:
Change the way you phrase your praise.
Research shows that the way adults phrase their praise to children can greatly impact their mindset. Avoid using phrases that focus on natural ability like “you’re smart” or “you’re a natural.” Instead, focus on their efforts by saying “you worked hard on this” or “it looks like that was easy for you, let’s find something more challenging.”
Try to stay optimistic, yet informative and realistic in your praise.
Students who focus on their natural abilities are more likely to feel discouraged when faced with challenges. Help your student stay optimistic by saying things like, “That’s an improvement from last time,” and “It looks like you don’t understand this yet. Let’s see what strategies we can try to help you improve.”
Be specific in your praise and feedback.
Rather than just saying “good job” when a student receives a good grade, tell them exactly why they did well and where they can improve as needed.
Don’t wait to praise the student’s efforts.
Instead of waiting for the report card to give your student praise or reward for success, recognize their effort regularly and consistently. The more a student receives praise for their effort instead of their final outcome, the more they will develop a growth mindset –focusing less on awards and more on the love of learning.
Help students understand that failure is only an element of success, not it’s opposite.
Sometimes a student will make mistakes, that’s normal. Be optimistic and empathetic with their struggles, but also help them exhibit Performance Character traits such as grit and courage to try again. Just as daily practice and grit are needed when learning a musical instrument or athletic sport, they are also just as vital in the classroom and at home.
Help the student seek out challenges instead of sticking to what’s easy.
Take note on what classes or topics your student puts in less effort to succeed, and then encourage them to take on tasks that are more challenging for them. When students are praised for an accomplishment they have put in a large amount of effort to achieve, they are more likely to continue seeking ways to grow and challenge themselves –developing life skills that are often utilized in future academic and career opportunities.