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Rethinking Praise: Focusing on Effort, Not Outcome

Throughout my childhood, I remember my grandmother frequently saying, “Well, I’ll give you an E for effort,” adding a playful touch to moments when things didn’t quite go as planned. While seemingly lighthearted, her choice of praise might have held more wisdom than we realized.

Have you ever hesitated to pursue a business venture, write a book, or start a blog due to the fear of failure? If so, you’re not alone. Recognizing the impact of this mindset, why not empower our children to face challenges without the weight of that fear?


The Pressure of Outcome-focused Praise:

Praising based on outcomes, even positive ones, can inadvertently create pressure and instill a fear of failure. This mindset, as observed in adults, hinders us from realizing our full potential. According to Dr. Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset: The New Psychology Behind Success,” redirecting praise towards a child’s effort can help them develop a healthier mindset.


Mindset Shift: Focusing on Effort:

Per Dr Dweck, focusing on a child’s effort allows them to take pride in the work they invest in a project or challenge, irrespective of the end result. While winning is desirable, it’s not always feasible. Effort, on the other hand, is within a child’s control and is a commendable aspect worth acknowledging.


Dr. Dweck’s Fascinating Findings:

In her groundbreaking research, Dr. Dweck explored the impact of different types of praise on children. Her findings are both fascinating and eye-opening. To delve deeper into her study, you can follow the link provided below.


Examples of Effort-focused Praise:

Wondering how to implement this approach in your parenting? Pamela Li, in her article “How to Praise a Child With Words”, offers some excellent examples.


Don’t Do
What a smart boy! I can see that you worked really hard on putting the pieces together.
Your ability in puzzle solving is excellent. Your strategy in solving this puzzle by separating the colors was excellent!
You are such a great puzzle solver! You are good a trying different ways to solve a hard puzzle.


Putting It into Practice:

The next time your child brings home a book report or test, consider praising their effort rather than focusing on the outcome. Observe how this shift in praise influences their perspective and motivates them for their next assignment.


Learn More:

Explore additional insights on how to effectively praise your child’s effort by clicking on the links provided below. Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments – I’d love to hear what you think!



Dweck, C. (2007, November 1). Retrieved from Carol Dweck: Praising Intelligence: Costs to Children’s Self-Esteem and Motivation | Bing Nursery School (

Li, P. (2024, January 13). Retrieved from How to Praise a Child With Words (50 Examples) (


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