By Cheri Fuller
"A good mother is somebody who doesn't yell at you for getting a bad grade. She understands, because maybe she got a bad one sometime too."
Roberta, age 8
A friend's daughter had been told repeatedly at school has smart she was as part of the gifted & talented program at school, but her parents were seeing her efforts diminish. If projects and assignments didn't come easy, she was easily discouraged and tended to give up. After all, if she was so smart, things shouldn't be hard! But for every child, there's going to be some aspect of school or some class or project that is challenging. How can we help them to persevere and grow in their abilities at school and home?
In my book The Mom You're Meant to Be: Loving Your Kids While Leaning on God I share that we all know that encouraging our kids and telling them what a good job they are doing on schoolwork or sports is important, but there's very interesting research that shows that often we praise our kids in a way that backfires. Let me explain.
A Columbia University research project studied over 400 fifth graders to discover what worked best with a series of math tests: praising kids for intelligence (Wow, that's a high score. You are really smart at this!) or effort (You got ten right. You must have worked really hard to get that high score!).
Guess which kids were boosted in their motivation? Which kind of praise worked better?
"Too often parents get extremely caught up in the grades, and then they say to their child, 'Why doesn't this motivate you?' What is motivating is the whole process of learning and the excitement and challenge of it."
Dr. David Elkind
Copyright 2005 Cheri Fuller, adapted from When Children Pray (Multnomah Publishers) and The Mom You're Meant to Be: Loving Your Kids While Leaning on God (Focus on the Family)
(Use only with permission of author.)
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