Yet another article confirming that I have sent my daughter down a path of failure. I thought I was doing well by praising Ri as being smart when she correctly completed a math problem but apparently I’m setting her up to head straight to trucking school after 12th grade.
“My research shows that praise for intelligence or ability backfires,” said Dweck, who co-authored a seminal research paper on the effects of praise on motivation and performance. “What we’ve shown is that when you praise someone, say, ‘You’re smart at this,’ the next time they struggle, they think they’re not. It’s really about praising the process they engage in, not how smart they are or how good they are at it, but taking on difficulty, trying many different strategies, sticking to it and achieving over time.”
The researcher continues to say that not only is telling our daughters they are smart unproductive, but it actually may be harmful to their development.
Here I was thinking that I was a superstar because I was commenting on Ri’s brains and not her beauty but not quite….
I appreciate these studies in order for us to learn more about how to raise our girls to be confident and excel but damn if they don’t make me second guess everything before talking to Ri.
But, alas, change and growth and questioning are a part of life so I guess I need to keep reading these studies and shifting my praise accordingly (oh, how my grandma would be shaking her head at all the analysis we engage in as parents in 2014!).
Tonight, Ri told me that she completed 91 subtraction problems in five minutes when she had only completed 78 two nights ago. I replied “You are my smart girl!” But then I caught myself and quickly replied: “You worked so hard to raise the number you could complete and never gave up – great job!” So who knows where that mixed message will take her.
In the end, I think she will be just fine. After all, does she look like she lacks confidence?!