Huberman on Praising Kids

Huberman on Praising Kids
14 de mar. de 2024 · 5m 30s

Of course, parents want to shower their kids with praise, highlighting their intelligence, talent, and athletic prowess. However, research suggests that simply labeling children as gifted and talented may not...

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Of course, parents want to shower their kids with praise, highlighting their intelligence, talent, and athletic prowess. However, research suggests that simply labeling children as gifted and talented may not be the most effective approach. In fact, certain types of praise can inadvertently hinder a child's performance. Andrew Huberman, a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine and host of the Huberman Lab podcast, explores the intricate connection between performance, grit, and the praise we receive and give ourselves. He also delves into the concept of a growth mindset and whether it can be learned and adopted. "It turns out that the kind of praise or feedback that we receive that attaches our identity to performance can actually undermine our performance," Huberman explains in the podcast episode focused on enhancing performance. From a young age, we often internalize beliefs about our strengths and weaknesses, Huberman notes. For instance, I've consistently told myself (and continue to do so) that I'm terrible at drawing—I could never create a proportional figure in art class. Conversely, I used to tell myself (but no longer do) that I was skilled at playing the piano, learning covers of popular songs in my spare time. "We tend to decide if we are good or bad at things, and we tend to integrate those beliefs with our identity to varying degrees, depending on whether we're professionals, amateurs, or how much we engage in an activity," Huberman says. Interestingly, being praised for our talent or intelligence in a specific area can actually limit our potential. As cliché as it may sound, emphasizing and commending the journey rather than the destination is the key to optimizing our performance. As renowned author Glennon Doyle's podcast title suggests, we can indeed do hard things.
How to praise your child the 'right' way Huberman references the work of Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University and author of "Mindset: How You Can Fulfill Your Potential." Dweck's 1998 research laid the groundwork for understanding the importance of effort-based praise over intelligence-based praise in improving performance. Children who were told they were great or smart after completing a task tended to gravitate toward easier activities that bolstered their sense of achievement. "They are likely to go with the least amount of challenge so that they can continue to receive that praise or feedback," Huberman explains. On the other hand, children who were praised for their effort and the process of diligently working on a problem were more inclined to seek out increasingly challenging tasks. Moreover, those praised for their effort actively sought out more challenges in general, aiming to capitalize on and enhance their effort. Paradoxically, telling someone they are a great athlete may lead them to play conservatively, as being good is tied to their identity, and they fear the consequences of losing. "If you're a parent or teacher, you have to be very careful about giving feedback to a child that is attached to their identity around an endeavor, especially if they're performing well at that endeavor," Huberman cautions. Praise with verbs Huberman breaks it down into simple terms: ditch the nouns. "If you attach effort verbs to why you got good at something, as well as why you are not good at something, then there's only room for improvement," he states in the episode.
Teach a growth mindset Emphasizing effort aligns with adopting a growth mindset—the belief that we can continuously find new ways to optimize performance and tackle challenges. Our identities are not fixed, Huberman asserts. "Growth mindset is really a way of connecting motivation to cognition," Huberman says, adding that it helps individuals bounce back from setbacks and transform frustration into action. As simple as it may seem, clearly outlining the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset is an excellent starting point for parents and teachers. Encourage children to ask for help When we don't perform as well as we would have liked, it's easy to spiral into negative emotions. One way to foster a growth mindset is to encourage children to seek help after facing a challenge. "Seek help from others in understanding where you didn't perform as well as you'd like," Huberman advises. Furthermore, consider asking for feedback when something goes right. "Seek input from others as to what were the verbs that you think might've led to your heightened performance." Remind children that there's a good type of stress A 2013 study discovered that when people understood the concept of a stress-enhancing mindset, they performed better. A stress-enhancing mindset involves recognizing that the feelings of stress, such as an elevated heart rate, are there to serve you rather than deplete you.
"How you think about stress impacts the stress response in profound ways," Huberman says, adding that this mindset also reduces the duration of cortisol release (the stress hormone), helping to manage the uncomfortable sensations of stress. "If people are taught about the performance-enhancing aspects of stress, then those people will experience performance enhancement when they are confronted with stress." To cultivate this mindset, students participated in a brief tutorial on the differences between stress mindsets. It allowed them to view healthy doses of stress as part of the journey. "We should always be striving to give others and ourselves praise that is correctly attached to genuine effort," Huberman emphasizes. "At the end of our life, really the only thing that you truly can control is where you place your attention and where you place your effort.” Thanks for listening to Quiet Please. Remember to like and share wherever you get your podcast
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