Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University, has been leading the way in her studies on praise and its effect on children. Her publications have fueled the “process praise” movement which encourages affirmation to be focused on the effort and process rather than the end results.
This is SUPER important to understand when working with young ladies. Girls have a tendency to see their traits and abilities as “fixed.” And depending on their success (or lack there of) with a subject/project, they may be willing to give up because they believe they are unable improve. Young girls lean towards believing their level of good just isn’t good enough, and it won’t change (especially when it comes to math).
Furthermore, if a girl is praised in terms like “Wow, all As, you’re so smart!” or “Look at the painting! You’re very creative.” The next time they struggle, or for this example, don’t receive straight As or make a noteworthy painting, they will think they’re no longer smart or creative because they didn’t receive that same result.
Perfectionists are in dire need of rewiring this belief system because they will see even the slightest mistake as a failure, and are likely to give up completely. Instead of trying again, they will avoid the challenge in fear of continued “failure” (and perfectionists don’t like to be anything but perfect!).
Therefore, to build self-esteem and resiliency in a girl, it is important to praise her efforts and the process of learning/trying! This gives her confidence in her ability to try again, experiment, and builds her belief in her own ability to improve. We want girls to feel good about challenging themselves and capable even when they don’t get the results they expected.
“If adults emphasize that all skills are learned through a process of engagement, value challenge and praise efforts to supersede frustration rather than only showing excitement over the right answer, girls will show resilience.”
If you want to learn more about how to positively affirm your daughter, read “Giving Good Praise to Girls: What Messages Stick,” or read the original publication of Dweck’s research, “Parent Praise to 1-3 Year-Olds Predicts Children’s Motivational Frameworks 5 Years Later”.