Praise Your Children’s Talent to Make Them Perform Worse

From author Daniel Pink’s book Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us to clinical research performed by renowned human performance psychologist, Carol Dweck, PH.D, the data is conclusive about personal motivation – we’ve misunderstood it for eons.

Daniel Pink’s research discovered that work for reward, such as good grades for an Ipod, is actually de-motivating because at that point it’s not their dream, not their goal, but just effort for reward. Sounds like a lame job, right? The de-motivation factor in this scenario makes plenty of sense. Dangling carrots just doesn’t work like we thought.

Carol Dweck, PH.D., discovered through her clinical studies of human behavior that praising talent leads to a decline in performance, but praising effort increases it. Telling someone they’re smart will lead them to want to preserve that positive label at all costs, so they will shy away from challenge for the chance it could reveal weakness or imperfection. Whereas those praised for their effort are happy to continue to struggle to improve and take on increasing challenges; they feel good about their effort and ability to get better when applying it.

If you’re a parent or a coach, there is an incredible amount of good you can do by teaching the right mindset – a growth mindset. Excelling in any domain whether academic, athletic, the arts or business takes intense effort and continuous personal challenge to stretch your abilities again and again (growth). Success, is more about effort than it is about talent.

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