In the comments to the last post, Pannlife wrote:

In the course of my education, I come across much concerning the differentiation of genders. Recently, I read something that suggested that you should praise effort rather than results; praise kids for things that they control and do, rather than things that they just are. My kids just are good looking; that is not something they control. Instead I should be praising them for things like, say, learning to swim, or making a cool piece of art. And I do. But it is startling and interesting that their physical attributes attract my eye and my mind often. They are so, so, beautiful to look at that it hurts sometimes.

Yup. Praising kids for what they do encourages what’s called a “Growth” mindset — it reinforces the idea that they’re in charge of their destiny and their successes are due to effort. If you’ve got a “Fixed” mindset, on the other hand, you think that all you’ve got is the cards that you’re dealt, and so you don’t have much of a way to change that. I remember some study that showed that kids (K-6, I believe) were more likely to take a poor grade on a test as a sign that they need to study harder if they showed signs of a “Growth” mindset, whereas those with a “Fixed” mindset took it as a real blow to the ego. It showed that they were less worthy of a person because they weren’t “smart.” You can imagine how this can be crippling to a kids’ future efforts. And how easy it is for us as parents and teachers to encourage that sort of thinking. It arises in part because we want to boost someone’s ego by telling them good things about. But, in truth. having high self-esteem hasn’t really been shown to relate to success in any measures, as in this article I wrote a few years back, “You’re not as great as you think you are.”

After 18,000 studies, there is no evidence, said Ray Baumeister, that having high self-esteem makes a person a better worker, student, husband, or wife. Nor does it protect against violence, smoking, drinking, taking drugs, or becoming sexually active at a young age. It does, however, reduce the risk of bulimia in young women.

Anyway. I know I’m of the “Fixed” mindset, and it really hampers me in life.

Here’s a PDF illustrating the differences between Fixed and Growth.