Praise what you prize. You’ve heard me say it a thousand times before. Praise what you prize. But what do you prize?

Instead of focusing on achievements and outcomes, with a growth mindset, we focus on the process, on the effort, on the growth. We want our kids to enjoy learning, to recognize that hard work can be rewarding, and to be proud of their efforts. We prize when our kids try their best, no matter the outcome. Praise what you prize. Praise the effort, not just the outcome.

say this not that you worked really hard

What does this look like?

Outcome praise: “Good job getting a 100 on your math test.”

Process praise: “I noticed how hard you studies and practiced your math facts. That was really cool.”

Outcome praise: “Your room is clean! Nice job!”

Process praise: “Thank you for cleaning up those legos when you didn’t really want to. Do you want me to help you with the clothes on the floor?”

Notice and acknowledge when things are difficult. It may be hard for your child to stop doing something fun in order to take care of business. Tell them you appreciate that effort.

“I saw how you handled being frustrated in stopping your game to do your chores. That was really mature and responsible. I’m proud of you. How do you feel about yourself for that effort?”

“Sharing with your brother can make you angry sometimes but you just gave him a turn. You put forth some serious effort. Way to go trying hard to share with him!”

Can you see the difference here?

“You are really smart.” vs “You worked really hard.”

Research has actually been done on this type of process praise. Hundreds of elementary aged students have shown to choose more difficult problems in school as a result of receiving process praise. The words used by the teachers changed how kids faced challenges at school. The children who had been given process praise worked harder, longer, and enjoyed difficult tasks more and made gains on academic tests than children praised only for their intelligence.

This growth mindset means that you encourage growth. We praise the effort and the growth. We prize the effort and the growth.

Praise what you prize. Prize growth and progress. Praise the effort, the hard work, and the trying.

Check out our cute Praise What You Prize stickers to help you remember to keep that process praise coming!