Yesterday my coworker Russell sent out a link which he called "great article praising kids." I liked the article very, very much, even though it made me feel sad.
. . . .
It provided yet another piece of the explanation for why I am who I am: I can't remember ever being praised for effort as a child. It was instead always a peculiar kind of negative praise for being smart. Smartness, according to the article, is something we can't help having or not having. Effort, on the other hand, is something we can choose to make or not to make. Without positive reinforcement for effort, there is little incentive for the making of it. Here is a link to the article: http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/
. . . .
At some point as a young adult I apparently received some praise for effort from someone because I ultimately did learn to make it. I can't help wondering, however, what my first eighteen or so years of life -- and later, even -- would have been like if I'd had the kind of reinforcement necessary to produce consistent effort.
. . . .
The thing is, though, is it makes me wonder how I praised my children. Without a role model to show me how to praise for effort, I think it is unlikely that I did. My guess is that I praised results and not smartness, but most of the time probably not effort either. I think one of my now-adult children reads this blog; if you choose to comment, Honey, please don't be too hard on me!