If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.
Carol Dweck is a pioneering researcher in the field of motivation, why people succeed (or don’t) and how to foster success. Dweck is a professor at Stanford and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, a classic work on motivation and “growth mindset”— the idea that we can grow our brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems. Her work is influential among educators and increasingly among business leaders as well.
The Power of Not Yet
I heard about a high school in Chicago where students had to pass a certain number of courses to graduate, and if they didn’t pass a course, they got the grade “Not Yet.”
And I thought that was fantastic, because if you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade “Not Yet” you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.
Scientists measured the electrical activity from the brain as students confronted an error.
On the left, you see the fixed mindset students. There’s hardly any activity. They run from the error. They don’t engage with it. But on the right, you have the students with the growth mindset, the idea that abilities can be developed. They engage deeply. Their brain is on fire with yet. They engage deeply. They process the error. They learn from it and they correct it.
We can praise the process that kids engage in: their effort, their strategies, their focus, their perseverance, their improvement
First of all, we can praise wisely, not praising intelligence or talent. That has failed. Don’t do that anymore. But praising the process that kids engage in: their effort, their strategies, their focus, their perseverance, their improvement. This process praise creates kids who are hardy and resilient.