Psychologists advise parents not to compliment their children too often

Children need compliments and praise. They need to be built, mostly by their parents, but some recent studies have found that the way parents compliment children could have a negative impact on their behavior. By deepening these studies, parents and those working with children can better understand how they can avoid this trap.

Psychologists advise parents not to compliment their children too often:

STUDY 1: TELL CHILDREN THAT THEY ARE INTELLIGENT

This study was published in Psychological Science, and she studied 150 3-year-olds and 150 5-year-olds. The researcher played a guessing game with the kids where they had to guess if the value of a hidden card was higher or lower than 6.

The researcher told the children one of three things: “You’re very smart,” “You did very well this time” or nothing.

The researcher then hid the card one last time but left before the child made his guess, reminding him not to take a look.

As expected, some children watched the map when the researcher stepped out of the room, which was recorded on a hidden camera in the room. In the group of 3 year olds, 40% of those who were told they did well or were not complimented cheated to win the game. However, 60% of those who were told they were smart cheated to win. In the 5-year age group, the ratio was similar, although the overall number of cheating children decreased.

STUDY 2: TELL CHILDREN THAT THE REPUTATION IS INTELLIGENT

This study was conducted by the same group of researchers with the same parameters. They used a group of 150 3-year-olds and another group of 150 5-year-olds to find out whether telling children that they had a reputation for being smart would have a similar impact on the results.

Again, they played a riddling game with the child, but this time, telling each child “you have a reputation for being intelligent,” “you have a reputation for being clean” or nothing .

Unsurprisingly, this study had the same results as the first, where children who had the reputation of being smart were more likely to cheat than those who had the reputation of being clean or those who had received no compliment.

WHY DOES IT WORK?

According to Gail Heyman, one of the co-authors of the studies, there are two possible reasons for this phenomenon.

First, when a child is told that he is intelligent or has that reputation, he feels more pressure to comply with this statement, which encourages him to do all that is necessary to win the game and keep this appearance of intelligence.

His other theory is that when a child is told that he is intelligent, it gives him a feeling of superiority, so that he feels he is above the rules or the rules are not there. do not apply to him. Another theory is that the child is afraid of disappointing the researcher after the researcher tells him that he is intelligent, so he wants to do what is necessary to meet those expectations and not to disappoint the one who told him that he was clever.

NEXT STEPS FOR PARENTS AND EDUCATORS

For parents, educators and all those working with children, this should be considered as a precautionary narrative and encourage them to avoid “direct compliments” focused on the intelligence of the child. Instead of saying directly to a child that he is intelligent, it is better to tell him instead that he has done well and to praise his efforts for everything he does.

Of course, no one is perfect, and it’s impossible to do it every time, but it’s important to keep it in mind since the way a child is praised has a profound impact on their mentality and their behavior. Establishing the expectation of working hard on something allows a child to have the freedom to fail without feeling guilty or to have the feeling of having disappointed someone. In this way, he can still grow through experiences.

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