Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids -- New York Magazine

The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids -- New York Magazine: "For a few decades, it%u2019s been noted that a large percentage of all gifted students (those who score in the top 10 percent on aptitude tests) severely underestimate their own abilities. Those afflicted with this lack of perceived competence adopt lower standards for success and expect less of themselves. They underrate the importance of effort, and they overrate how much help they need from a parent."

This is fascinating and it is something I am glad to have been reminded of.

I knew I had read something like this some time ago. It took me a little while to find up but I did. In the late 1990's Alfie Kohn wrote Punished by Rewards: The trouble with Gold star, incentive plans, A's, praise, and other bribes.

His work was a bit more comprehensive involving not just school children but also salespeople. The results from his work were very interesting:

• Children retain 30 times more information if they are interesting in it then not.
• Companies that do not use commission systems to pay their sales team will increase sales by 300%.
• Rewarding people for doing something will lose interest in doing that thing even if it was fun before, this appears to be a long term effect, too.

You probably know a few children that can spout of thousands of facts about their favorite sports team, collectable card game or cars. Yet they can't seem to remember their times tables.

How to make it interesting?

That is the easiest thing of all: relate it to something they are interested in.

Something that would really freak out old Alfie is Dora the Explorer: They drop praise throughout that little show. Can it actually be damaging to our little ones. I doubt that Dora's praise is counted nearly as much as our's but we have to make our praise mean more.

The most powerful boost to self-esteem is accomplishment.

"Do, or do not. There is no try." -Yoda

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