Effort Based Praise and Little Sprout Art + Learning Lab

May 3, 2022

Now, we are not about to tell you that Effort Based Praise is the only effective method of praise that can help build strong, competent, and self-determined children, but we are comfortable saying that we observe positive benefits in our family. Yes, relatively speaking it’s a small sample size and we often use it in tandem with ability based praise. Most often in the early stages of our kids learning a new subject, topic, skill, whatever that might be, praising them for effort in the early stages often gives them a foundation to build on to keep trying. That’s really all we want for our kids, keep trying, keep going, and look for incremental progress over time.

In our home, when it comes to effort based praise you might hear things like:

  • I can see you are working hard at coloring in the lines.
  • You’ve done a great job by trying to draw that dog.
  • I’ve seen great improvement in writing from the beginning of the school year.
  • The studying you did this week really paid off on that spelling test.

It’s said that effort based praise can help empower children, help boost their determination, and help the child understand that their effort has a direct impact on the outcome. We love this concept as we’re working hard to raise three strong-willed, persistent, young women. It falls in line with our family culture. We want to work on developing a growth mindset for our children so that they can believe in themselves, but also believe in the process so they don’t get discouraged when it gets difficult.

Research on Effort Based Praise

Much of what has been said has simply been our preference and our personal observations at home so we wanted to also share with you this great article we found by researchers Jaap Glerum et al,  at University College Roosevelet which discusses how children react to effort based praise vs. performance based praise.

Parts that stood out to us:

  • Children praised for effort looked to complete more challenging math questions
  • Children praised for effort showed greater task persistence, task enjoyment,
  • Children praised for effort had better post-failure performance

Additionally, we stumbled across this article from the Student Experience Network. In it they highlight that effort based praise tells youth that what is valued is their effort or process, whereas performance praise “You’re smart”… “You’re a good drawer” that the value is in a trait that they possess and and don’t necessarily control.

Again, we’re not about to say effort based praise is right for everyone. Every child, family, and person is different and responds differently to the many types of praise that exist. We simply find positive results forming in our kids and think there is value in putting it out there for others to use if they agree.

So how does this impact Little Sprout Art + Learning? Well, the majority of our worksheets will aim to give effort based feedback. Our desire is to help build strong, resilient, leaders of tomorrow. There will be some performance based messages mixed in there, because we do think there is a place for this to help boost confidence levels, but the majority of messages will focus on effort based praise.

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