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Johnson County
11811 S. Sunset Drive
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Olathe, KS 66061

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(P)Raising for Growth

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When a child is successful, a proud parent will want to praise their child but research shows that how you praise makes an impact on the youth’s development. So what is the correct way to praise your child?

Let’s say for example, your child comes up to you with the test that they aced. They are beaming with pride and of course, you want to praise them. What will you say?

  • Option A: “Wow, you are one smart cookie, I’m so proud of you!”
  • Option B: “Wow, I know you studied hard for that test. I’m so happy that your hard work paid off!”

Dr. Carol Dweck, would say that Option B is the better choice. In her research, she points out the subtle difference. In Option A, you are praising their intelligence whereas in Option B, you are praising their effort. 

Dr. Dweck argues that praising a child’s intelligence can lead to youth avoiding risks with the fear that they will look less intelligent when they fail. These children may lead to the belief that intelligence is fixed and it cannot be altered. These children are more likely to give up or cheat when they face a challenge. 

On the other hand, by praising a child’s effort, it encourages the youth to believe that intelligence is malleable and that it is the outcome of their effort. These youth with a growth mindset are more likely to enjoy the process of learning and continue trying when they face a challenge.

Take the test
Try it out: Does the following statements encourage a Fixed Mindset (FM) or Growth Mindset (GM)? (Find the answers at the end of the article.)

____ 1. I love the picture you drew.  

____ 2. You are so good at math.  

____ 3. I’m not looking for right answers; I’m looking for you to give it a try.  

____ 4. I can tell that you have been practicing hitting those high notes.  

____ 5. You are such a natural athlete.  

____ 6. I like the way you continued trying. Let’s do it together. 

____ 7. It might be challenging at first but with practice, it will get easier. 

As a parent, of course you want the best for your child but remember to help them embrace mistakes and encourage experimentation. Our goal is for the youth in our community to feel supported by caring adults in their community to build confidence, competence, and character to have the resilience when encounter challenges.  One of the easiest way to help a child develop a growth mindset when they say, “I can’t do it,” encourage them add the word “yet” to the end — “I can’t do it yet.”

Remember to praise the process and their effort and not just the person. 

Source: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)


  1. FM
  2. FM
  3. GM
  4. GM
  5. FM
  6. GM
  7. GM