In the first study to analyze parent praise in a real-world setting, it’s been found that the kind of praise parents give their babies and toddlers influences the child’s motivation later on, and plays a role in children’s beliefs about themselves and their desire to take on challenges five years later.
The study analyzed video of 53 mothers interacting with their children at 1, 2, and 3 years of age. The children were interviewed about their attitudes five years later. Those who had received more praise directed at their actions and efforts were more likely to prefer challenges than those who heard praise directed at them personally (e.g., ‘You’re great, you’re amazing vs ‘Well done, you worked hard on that’). They were also more likely to believe that abilities and behavior could change and develop.
The amount of praise wasn’t important; what mattered was the ratio of ‘process praise’ compared to person praise.
Parents of boys tended to give more process praise than parents of girls.
(2013). Parent Praise to 1- to 3-Year-Olds Predicts Children's Motivational Frameworks 5 Years Later.
Child Development. n/a - n/a.