Praise and Encouragement

September 12, 2013 BY Kira Wright, CCC-SLP

This is part of a continuing series of posts on therapy ideas to support assistants (SLPAs) and paraprofessionals in the schools in their work with students and their supervising SLPs.

Does it matter how we praise kids? Research from Dr. Carol Dweck and her team suggests that the words we use, and the actions we praise, change students’ mindsets towards work. This is critical to consider as we are asking kids to work on skills that we’ve identified as really hard for them.

Especially in the fall, getting to know students on our caseloads, we design activities for success and build lots of praise into our sessions. Dr. Dweck explains that praising kids for their intelligence (“Wow, great job. You must be really smart!”) makes them less likely to persevere when a task is hard. Alternatively, praising a child for their effort (“Wow, great job. You must have worked really hard!”) results in a willingness, and even desire, to work at harder tasks with the potential to learn more!

“Kids are exquisitely sensitive to what other people value, what they’re being judged on…”

This video shows some of the research that was done with 5th graders and explains the difference between a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset”.

SLPAs and paraprofessionals should always operate within the scope defined by state and national licensing organizations and should only conduct allowable tasks under the supervision of a speech-language pathologist.