Exactly the opposite of my experience. My father never praised us. Ever. My mother rarely did. We were routinely punished for anything less than perfection: homework, grades, even washing the dishes (Do them again! Not clean enough!)
And yet they must have been doing something else so subtly that none of us ever noticed. Everything about the way they treated us led each of us to believe that we could accomplish anything, as long as we worked hard enough and didn't expect anything given to us. We were special but not entitled.
I sometimes felt angry about how we were treated until one day I realized that they made a great parental sacrifice, exchanging their own popularity for our potential.
There both gone now and I think about them every day. Even more so after posts like this one. Thank you, OP.
That's a pity. You should not do that. Please don't do that to your children or they will become miserable and angry too, and their children too, and so on. This is an awful way to live a life.
A man is born for happiness like a bird for flight.
Sacrificing large part of your life to misery for the questionable future success is a very bad deal. Not suggesting anyone take it.
I agree that is rather harsh. Children most of all need love and affection that is a solid base for everything else to grow on.
The response to avoid excessive pointless praises for every simple task it not constant harshness and lack of affection. There is a balance, but rather it is praise for hard work.
My parents never told me I was gifted or smart instead they always praised my hard work, and taught by example -- for example, never to half-ass a job, always try to do the best you can.
In the end I don't think I am gifted or better than anyone by some genetic fluke or something. However I am persistent and will never give up until I reach my goals.
Praise is an expression, and it may or may not express love. Love and affection are emotions.
It is entirely possible to love and feel affection without expressing it through words, or even actions. As an example: simply paying attention and listening, without having your own thoughts, preconceptions block you from actually receiving what that other person is saying.
Love is a state of being, not something you do. So yes, children need love and affection; that may or may not have anything to do with praise.
PS. It is far easier to tackle challenges when you love yourself, and have fun with what you are doing. Failures don't feel like the end of the world, and you can acknowledge and examine them with the same neutrality as you would with successes. At that point, it is no longer a matter of success or failure -- you feel loved anyways.
There's this big fallacy that desire and punishment are necessary, otherwise someone will become lazy, apathetic, and won't have the "drive". This is a big fat lie. The lie comes from the notion of having to trade success for affection.
I think what the article's author posted and your experience are two extremes of parenting. It just so happened that the article shows the "failure case" of excessive and unmerited praise; there are undoubtedly many well-adjusted adults who were constantly praised for mundane tasks and told they would achieve great things as a child, just like there are adults who turned out to be well-adjusted despite the other extreme of parenting.
Like others have stated here, I believe that the right balance is a childhood in which parents praise effort and not talent and where the enforcement of discipline is firm but not rigid.
"People can also learn these self-theories from the kind of praise they receive (Mueller & Dweck, 1998). Ironically, when students are praised for their intelligence, they move toward a ﬁxed theory. Far from raising their self-esteem, this praise makes them challenge-avoidant and vulnerable, such that when they hit obstacles their conﬁdence, enjoyment, and performance decline. When students are praised for their effort or strategies (their process), they instead take on a more malleable theory— they are eager to learn and highly resilient in the face of difﬁculty."
The basic premise is there are two types of mindsets, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Those with the fixed mindset are those that believe that intelligence, ability, etc.. is basically fixed. You have some certain amount and that's that. The growth mindset believes the general range of these things may be strongly influenced ('fixed') by things like genetics, life circumstances, etc... but improvement within this range is definitely possible and the key to that is hard work and honest assessment of where you are relative to where you want to be.
This relates to the achievement vs. hard work thing because she claims children who are praised for 'being smart' or 'being good at X' tend to gravitate towards the fixed mindset (i.e. 'I get praised because I am smart, I am smart because I can do X well/X comes easily to me, if something doesn't come easily to me it must mean I am not smart/talented'). This causes them to not put in effort when the going gets tough and in fact to avoid challenges because if they fail they view it as a judgement on their core self/competency (not simply an indication of an area for growth).
The growth mindset folks (children praised for doing well because they worked hard at it as opposed to some natural talent or 'smarts') tend to seek challenges as they view them as the engine of growth/improvement.
Using these frameworks as a lens on which to view human behavior can be interesting. I have definitely seen both mindsets in action (in myself and others). I definitely , consciously, try to stay in a growth mindset now, but I think our culture heavily pushes a fixed mindset where someone either has 'it' or they don't, they are smart or they are not, they are talented or they are not. We prefer the 'instant success due to massive talent/smarts' story over the 'worked their ass off for years to build amazing talent and then succeeded due to that hard work'.
The book Talent Is Overrated also touches on this and points out most people that we generally consider 'naturals' at things, if you interview them/study them/look at their past, all have something in common, a tremendous amount of effort in learning/training, above and beyond what most people put in. This also veers towards the 10,000 hour theory of Anders Ericsson
EDIT: Fixed a bunch typos/misspelling I saw in re-reading. Originally typed in IE with no spell check. Area for improvement: spelling.
This can make a huge difference if a breakthrough occurs on a meta-level and eventually you get better at learning, by repeatedly trying to learn something, you learn how to learn better, then learning anything is easier.
When you focus exclusively on the quality of results, you stop growing.
It's not about "effort", so much as the deliberateness in which you go about things. (The word "effort" is weighed down with a number of baggage and connotation). Or to put in different words, how mindful are you as you are doing whatever it is you are doing?
Actually, I think what matters is the right mix of quantity and quality. Too much perfection wastes time for nothing. And sometimes I am too perfectionist unfortunately.
She has a story about a parent whose daughter was competing in gymnastics and at the local level always did pretty well without much practice. She went to a regional meet and did well relative to her skills but was outperformed by others and ended up not winning any medals/ribbons. On the way home the dad basically told her she didn't win because she didn't deserve to, i.e. the other competitors had put in more practice than she had and it showed in their performance. He didn't say 'they beat you because they are more talented' or 'they beat you because they are superior athletes', those are the kinds of statements that imply there is some core quality that the winners had that his daughter didn't have and thus she could never be better than them. Instead he basically said 'they buckled down and put in the long hours, if you did that you would have had a better chance'.
Dweck pointed out that he wasn't saying this to be a dick, and of course feedback like this much be couched correctly for people to hear it, but he wanted his daughter to know that to compete you have to put in the effort to learn/practice. If others put in more effort than you then they deserve to win, all else being equal. The story ended with her doubling down on her effort/practice (since she realized her local competitors which she could easily beat were only indicative of her talent vis-a-vis them, not some absolute barometer for her skills) and going on to compete successfully at a national level.
You are right that if I try and deliver some project at work and it fails I can't tell my boss 'but I tried really hard!' :) That said, if you look at most successful projects/people you see a LOT of hard work at some point to deliver on things. Some people make it look easy, but that is likely because they have done all the hard work years earlier building their skillsets. If they have done more of that than you then it shouldn't be surprising that their skills seem so superior to yours. They weren't born being masters of anything (hell, babies can't even manage to not shit themselves for a few years :)), but they put in time and effort even when there was little/no reward for that investment (in the immediate here and now, obviously there is reward later when you are able to do seemingly super-human things easily).
>The problem I have with this is that in real life, it doesn't matter how hard you work on something; what matters is the quality of the result.
What makes you think the two are unrelated? If one is hopelessly incopetent maybe, but for most people hard work equals better results.
It's something that has been stated time and again regarding geniuses / very productive people et al, in the form of, say, the "10,000 hour rule", or the "99 perspiration, 1% inspiration".
Let's say we're comparing two employees: X works hard 80 hours a week; Y works only 40 hours a week and takes long lunches. But somehow, Y still ends up producing more results of a better quality. A rational manager should pay Y more than X, since it's only the end results that are of value to the company.
I feel absolutely the same. I've spent a lot of time trying to reconstruct how my mother raised me. Things I consider average and normal human potential seem outrageous to a lot of people i meet.
For my brother when people were always telling him how great he was, she was the one pulling him back on earth.
One thing I noticed is that once you start believing that you're awesome, you stop becoming awesome.
This is the best line I've read in a comment here in some time. I had this same epiphany once I went to college. My father and I had never really gotten along. I had tremendous respect for him (and a mild bit of fear), but I never really "liked" him. He preached personal responsibility and hard work. Over and over.
When I was in karate as a 10 year old, we would work in the basement for hours every night. Perfecting every move, learning all the forms. He would sit there and critique. I hated it. I won a lot of trophies in competitions as a child, but I never cared. There was no praise for winning. I hated the constant practice, the drilling, the ceaseless work. As I got older I realized the message he instilled. If you want to excel at something, this is what it takes. This is the amount of effort required to be competitive. And you do things because you want to be good at them, not because someone will praise you for it.
Every day of my life I'm glad he taught me that lesson. I get so tired of self-entitled whiners like the author of this article. It's not fair of course, the author never had a parent that taught them what hard work and success really looks like. The real shame is that he's probably more the rule than the exception these days.
If someone tries their best but still raises a rotten child because they're just not good at parenting, do they deserve as much praise as someone who raised the same child to be a great man or woman?
Results should be looked at as a feedback mechanism to give you a reality check on your effort. If you gave it your all and still failed - what could you have done differently? Were you directing your effort at the things that are most important? Was it a goal worth doing in the first place? Could you have adjusted your actions to get a bigger payoff for your effort?
(And the parenting example is a good one. IMHO someone who does their best at raising a child with random genetic disorders like sociopathy, schizophrenia, or Down's Syndrome absolutely deserves as much praise as someone who raises a bright genetically-endowed child to be a great man or woman.)
That's not the question he asked. You're comparing parents who face different challenges. The question was about parents who face the same challenges, and both sets of parents put a lot of effort in, but one set is good at parenting and the other set is bad at parenting.
I would still respect the first set of parents. They did the best they could with what they had to work with. It's a sad situation though...in a perfect world effort would equal results, but the world ain't perfect.
I believe you are incorrect in jumping to the conclusion that encouraging "results" would be superior to encouraging grit, effort and work. For one, the research is absent, and for another it makes the "how" incidental - whereas it is not.
My degree, for instance, is in part only as meaningful as the work I put into it. Lying, cheating and stealing my way towards it would not serve me in the long run.
It turns out that if the kid associates his/her self-image with being smart, they tend to avoid hard stuff later that they may not look so smart it. If you praise effort, their more likely to work hard a hard problems.
I remember crying a few times when I kept making mistakes and he would keep making me do it over and over until I got it.
He even built a batting cage for me and I would hit hundreds and hundreds of pitches.
Did I get significantly better because of all this practice? You bet I did. I had less natural talent than almost everyone on in the league but I was one of the best players because of all that practice. I saw the correlation between how much I practiced and my performance in games.
And you guys are absolutely right, I didn't like my dad when he was being so tough on me. But it was for the better, and I could see that when I became an adult.
It taught me that if you want to be good at something, you need to work hard, and it's not always fun. Perseverance and grit are very important.
As a father to a new baby I am really looking forward to (hopefully) passing on these lessons to her when she's old enough. I guess I won't be her best friend but I suppose that's just the price you pay.
Many Asian parents praise their children's effort, rather than the outcome of that effort.
It sounds like your parents did half: Encouraging hard work, and not praising accomplishment, but not giving recognition for the hard work.
If you have kids and find yourself with a similar attitude as your parents, I'd add in that you should praise how hard they worked, regardless of their outcome.
Hope that makes sense...
Also, disclosure: I'm 28, with no kids. Take any parenting advice with a grain of salt :D
As an Asian who knows many other Asians, I found it to be the opposite. Effort was only a necessary component of outcome - and outcome is the ultimate goal. Regardless of how much (or little) effort you put in, negative outcomes are unacceptable.
That more or less reflects my world view now - it's not about working hard, it's more often about working smart. If we make it about effort we leave out of the box solutions on the table. Optimize for outcome.
This is the optimal solution.
But yes, if all what 90% people want is playing computer games, that's what they should do. I just think you're off by an order of magnitude.
An environment created especially for the purpose of making us happy has an inherent advantage over reality. (Btw, don't forget the fact that our creative desires can also be realized in computer games.)
And once they do, the division between games and life disappears. They just become different interfaces to the real world.
They're extremely dangerous because they provide real-world possibilities.
"Internal motivation" is a resultant of complex social forces, rather than some absolute immutable physical law.
Btw "progress in doing things that you really like" takes on a new dimension with people who are "internally motivated" to be rapists, murderers or pedophiles. I know the GP is probably only considering this in the context of "effective parenting", and I apologize for the ad-absurdum, but I don't feel screaming at villains should be made "illegal". Nor everybody's "internal motivation" and "following their passion" universally glorified, as I often hear suggested by neo-hippies.
If you have a genuine argument, please articulate it. I'd be of course happy to answer.
Of all robberies, murders and rapes only a tiny minority is committed by people feeling deep internal motivation to do so. Most are done by stupid people in a bad situation. Maniacs are pretty rare. Stupid people are a plenty. And they don't dream the life of violence. They have it all right already, some from the birth.
Talking about this tiny minority, I don't see how our yakyaking about following our dreams can affect them. Those people are deeply ill and should see a doctor. I don't see why we should take them into account when talking about how a sane majority of people should live.
But I still have this large bill of all the hours ruined on "education" with nobody to compensate it to me. Will you?
"Follow your passion." We've been talking about it here for the last 36 hours. "Follow your passion" -- what could possibly be wrong with that? It's probably the worst advice I ever got. "Follow your dreams and go broke," right? I mean -- that's all I heard growing up. I didn't know what to do with my life, but I was told that if you follow your passion it's gonna work out. I can give you 30 examples right now. Bob Combs, the pig farmer in Las Vegas, who collects the uneaten scraps of food from the casinos and feeds them to his swine. Why? Because there's so much protein in the stuff we don't eat, his pigs grow at twice the normal speed, and he is one rich pig farmer, and he is good for the environment, and he spends his days doing this incredible service, and he smells like hell but God bless him. He's making a great living. You ask him: did you follow your passion here? He'd laugh at you. The guy's worth -- he just got offered like $60 million for his farm, and turned it down, outside of Vegas. He didn't follow his passion! He stepped back and he watched where everybody was going and he went the other way.
This makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. For starters, it's completely clear to me that Rowe is totally passionate about the work he has been doing for Dirty Jobs! (If that's not clear from this short segment, watch the whole video.) I don't know that in his youth he would have been able to identify this work as his passion, but it seems clear enough to me that he has, as an adult, found it -- if not "the" passion of his life, then certainly "a" passion.
His story about the pig farmer makes no sense to me either. How exactly can we conclude that the pig farmer isn't following his passion? I'd say that the fact that he doesn't want to sell his farm is evidence that it is, in fact, his passion, and the clever way he's found to feed his pigs, to me, supports that conclusion rather than contradicting it. Where is it written that no one could possibly be passionate about pig farming?
And tucked in the middle of all this is the line "'Follow your dreams and go broke,' right?" Again -- where is that written? I've never assumed that following my dreams would lead to penury; quite the contrary.
Rowe is thus an example of a curious phenomenon I've noticed -- people whose passion seems to be telling other people not to follow their passions. (Cal Newport is the other example that comes to mind.)
The only explanation I can come up with is that these people don't really get what a passion is or how to identify it. I suppose that to the extent that there are a lot of people out there who don't get that, telling them not to follow their passions is, for them, sound advice! But I find it rather unsatisfying.
Not that i've actually watched the film or anything, you understand