Growth Mindset Vs. Fixed Mindset and why it’s so important
Updated: Mar 26
Why Praising Our Little Ones May Not be as Valuable as We Think
We were always taught that praise words are very important but what if I tell you there is a better way to “praise”?! There’s research that tells us what type of encouragement language is best to use in order to push our kids to be more motivated and constantly push further.
Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, talks about “a fixed mindset,” where people believe their successes are a result of (and limited to) their innate talent or smarts.
Instead of using the “fixed mindset” language, we can encourage our child to believe that their intelligence, capabilities, and talents can grow the more they learn.
How do we do that?!
This method is referred to as a “growth mindset,” and children who have it tend to persevere through more difficult tasks. You might be thinking,
“Isn’t this heavy stuff something I can worry about later? they are only toddlers!”
The same research shows this slight change can make a difference starting as early as 18 months. And if you can get in the habit of praising your toddler’s efforts instead of their actions, it will be easier for you as your child gets older to become consistent with it. Using words of acknowledgment instead of praising words is what we want to aim for. Praising is often about “us” the parent, how we feel about what the child did and our expectations. Being “proud” of your child getting an A on an exam can mean you expect them to get an A and if they studied just as hard and got a C you are not proud of their hard efforts. Carol explains how praising intelligence and ability doesn't foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success.
Saying “congratulations on your hard work” rather than “I am so proud of you” can make a huge difference in your child’s self esteem and confidence.
Your child will understand that you have acknowledged their hard work rather than just being proud that they met your expectations.
It can feel like there are so many "rules" with children these days, and we certainly don’t want to feel overwhelmed! These tips are just some points to reference if you choose to apply this within your home.
▫️Try to praise the process/effort vs praising the person. Instead of “You are so smart!” try “You were able to find all the letters to complete the puzzle on your own, that must feel great.”
▫️ Describe what you see. Instead of “Good job!” try “I see you cleaned up all that by yourself!” Instead of “You are so good at drawing.” try “Look at that colorful drawing you made all by yourself!”
▫️When your toddler seems proud, talk about how you feel. If your toddler throws trash away, instead of ”Thank you! Good job!” try “It’s so nice to have you help me clean up.”
Remember, praising specifics of what your child is doing helps your child recreate what you are praising them for and allows them to have the confidence to do those actions and more.
We try our best to use this type of language mindset at our home, of course, it’s not so easy when you are so used to saying “good job” for instance but we make an effort. We certainly notice the difference when we use specific words of acknowledgment with our son and how proud he becomes when we acknowledge his actions instead of just praising him.
** Some of the links above may be affiliate links, which means Mamaguide will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. When purchasing from these links you are supporting my work and allowing me to keep producing free content.