Parents and Praise

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Story Updated: Feb 13, 2013

S., according to new statistics.

There's no question that praise can be confidence-building but a new study suggests the words you choose may have a big impact on your child's future motivation and self-esteem.

Researchers videotaped more than 50 parents using spontaneous praise with their toddlers. Each family was taped three times, when the children were around 1, 2, and 3.

The praise was then classified into two categories: "process" praise, emphasizing effort like..."you're doing a fantastic job."

Or individual "person" praise.... like "you're so smart."

The team followed up with the children when they were 7 to 8-year-olds determining whether they preferred challenging versus easy tasks and if they could figure out how to overcome setbacks.

While the overall amount of praise didn't seem to matter.... the type of praise did.

Toddlers whose parents praised their efforts more than they praised them as individuals had a more positive approach to challenges five years later. They were more persistent and believed they could continue to learn and improve.

By the way, the tapes showed that boys got more constructive "process" praise than girls. Researchers warn this might give them an advantage in the confidence category over time.

I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV with news you can use for healthier living.

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Midwife Wendi Gallagher CNM