My co-worker shared this article, How not to talk to your kids, by Po Bronson, with me yesterday to help me prepare for a conference I attended last week (yes, I was gone again), and it really helped me wrap my head around a clear distinction we want to make for our children.
Basically, Carol Dweck, a guru in "growth mindset" (and the theme of my conference) explains to us that when we praise results, it leads to frustrated children who do not what to try something that they may not be good at. It creates an environment in which children tie self-worth to success. For those children that are addressed with praise for effort, it was much more likely that they enjoyed taking on a challenging task vs taking the easy way out. They enjoyed the process of being pushed. My kids are very much the first kind of kid, though I don't think it's because I only praise their results. I want them to be the second kind of kid, so we work really hard to offer varied experiences for our kids that will challenge them in a variety of ways.
On a side note, what I don't want this to open up is what my team would call the "brown ribbon" debate. The "brown ribbon" is what you get when all the high places/awards have been given out and they've used up all the pretty colors, but they still need to give you a ribbon for participating, so you end up with brown. I don't think kids should receive participation awards for everything they do, that's not the point. I *do* however think that as a parent, it's important to encourage our children through difficult tasks in an authentic way, when they are putting in real time and effort.
Just food for thought this week. I'd love to know what challenges you or your kids face and how you felt about needing to persevere through something that didn't come easily.