The Danger of Praising
I have previously mentioned the importance of judgment on our sense of self. So, what about praise? Approval is most beneficial when perceived as sincere. It can encourage increased performance, promote autonomy, and enhance competence. Furthermore, praise can moderate negative characteristics of the recipient, such as age, gender, and culture.
According to Dweck (2007), praise can be delivered using person (‘you are clever’) or process terms (‘you worked hard’). Carol Dweck suggests praising a child on effort and strategy, rather than on their ability. For her, praising ability creates a fixed mindset.
Praise reassures our sense of wellbeing, it gives us pleasure. Approval seekers are at risk of avoiding everything that is new to them. Like an enclosed system, avoidance may lead to vulnerabilities due to limited exposure and reduced ego flexibility. Dweck reminds us that under-challenged students end up unmotivated and having academic problems.
On the other hand, being open to acquiring new skills and knowledge imply the effort of learning and adaptation. A person can thrive and acquire skills by remaining undaunted and enjoying any challenge.
A person is not stronger because they got it right. Being stronger, agile and sharp is a skill acquired through years of going tango with the world. Self-confidence is to know that, whatever happens, one will be able to shrithe and handle it in a successful way. Like a cat that always falls on its four legs.
Dweck, C. S. (October 01, 2007). The Perils and Promises of Praise. Educational Leadership, 65, 2, 34-39.