In Praise of Praise

By Leslie Josel

Persistence is a hot topic in my house these days. With a freshman in college I will spare you the details. But I’m thinking it’s a huge topic in many of your homes too. We all want to raise a resilient kid. Call it what you want—determination, persistence, diligence, even motivation. We know that it is essential for success in school and in life.

Since this is such a huge topic, I’m going to spend a great deal of time over the next few months exploring ways to build this skill in your student. But in the meantime, let’s discuss one easy way to start the process. PRAISE!

Not All Praise is Equal

If you truly want to raise a child who can overcome challenges and possess “stick-to-itness,” then praise the process and not the person. Research shows that when children are praised for their smarts or talents they are more likely to avoid challenges or things that are difficult. They may fear that if they fail, then they weren’t really that smart or talented to begin with.

When we praise for hard work, attention to detail, or going that extra mile, our children are more likely to keep going when things get tough. As I always say, it’s not about the outcome, but how we get there.

Leslie Josel is the Principal of Order out of Chaos, an organizing consulting firm specializing in student organizing. She is the author of What’s the Deal with Teens and Time Management and the creator of the award-winning Academic Planner: A Tool for Time ManagementTo learn more, visit

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