Say This, Not That: Praising Your Children for Their Effort

Can how you praise your children affect their overall ability to be successful in life? To researchers, the answer to that question is more and more becoming a convincing yes.

While Bill Murphy, Jr., one of the top authors at Inc. Magazine, admits that he’s hesitant to pass along advice from successful entrepreneurs as fact, he recently suggested that parents and their children could benefit from listening to the words of Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, as well as one of the richest men in the world.

“Take pride in your choices, not your gifts,” Bezos said at a 2016 awards show. “This is something that's super important for young people to understand, and for parents to preach to young people. It's really easy for a talented young person to take pride in their gifts: ‘I'm really athletic,’ or ‘I'm really smart,’ or ‘I'm really good at math.’ That's fine. You should celebrate your gifts. You should be happy, but you can't be proud of them. What you can be proud of is your choices.”

According to Murphy, Jr., too many parents are praising their children the wrong way. For clarification, he offered these three examples.

Say This: "I saw how much you poured your soul into that painting; it's beautiful."
Not That: "What a beautiful painting you created!"

Say This: "You played your heart out today. Amazing effort."
Not That: "I'm so proud of what you did on the field today."

Say This: "I'm so proud of your hard work: Another A+!"
Not That: "Another A+! I expect nothing less, of course!"

“See what I mean?,” Murphy, Jr. pleaded to parents. “These are all nice things to say, but they don't point out that the effort, as opposed to the innate gifts bound up in their DNA, or granted by the grace of God, or however you'd like to attribute them, is what's being praised.”

No matter how you’ve acknowledge your kids’ success in their lives so far, Murphy Jr. reminded parents that a growth mindset always allows for improvement.

“It's always Day 1, for your kids, of course, but for you, too,” he wrote.

What Parents Should Know about a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset
Say This, Not That: Using Enforceable Statements as a Parent
Say This, Not That: Avoiding Destructive Parenting Habits

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