Friday, February 23, 2007

Praise Children!

Psalm 127 says that children are a gift of the Lord. I have seven children and three grandchildren and every single one are worthy of praise. After all they’re exceptionally bright! Or are they? For that matter, do I even need to praise them for being so smart or talented or athletic or just generally so much better than the rest of the hoi polloi (rabble). Well guess what…

...a growing body of research - and a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school system - strongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.
Well it turns out that praise is fine. Praise your children often and with sincerity. However, remember to praise them for their effort, not their intelligence. If you praise kids for their intelligence, they tend to avoid tasks they fear they will fail at. And get this recent insight from an article in New York magazine:

Scholars from Reed College and Stanford reviewed over 150 praise studies. Their meta-analysis determined that praised students become risk-averse and lack perceived autonomy. The scholars found consistent correlations between a liberal use of praise and students’ “shorter task persistence, more eye-checking with the teacher, and inflected speech such that answers have the intonation of questions.” ...image maintenance becomes their primary concern - they are more competitive and more interested in tearing others down. A raft of very alarming studies illustrate this.
What does the eternal wisdom of the Scriptures tell us about child-rearing? It uses vivid images. Psalm 127 goes on to portray children as arrows in the hand of a warrior. Ancient warriors made their own arrows. It took lots of time and attention to detail to shape the arrowhead so the shaft would fly true and straight. We are preparing our children to be "shot" into the next generation, and there aren't any shortcuts; it takes time.

That really means that each child must be treated as a unique individual who requires shaping and molding and attention and investment. There's no one-size-fits-all approach to child-rearing. And it takes a lot of time to pay attention to your kids.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6)

enjoy, ron

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