Recent research has upended everything we think we know about praising children, says Sandra Aamodt, author of Welcome to Your Child's Brain: How the Mind Grows From Conception to College. Framing the way you praise your child around his or her characteristics encourages a "fixed" mindset, she argues, by telegraphing the message that achievement is based only on intrinsic assets rather than on hard work and growth.
Sure, "Oh, you're so smart!" sounds sweet, but it gives a child zero guidance about what he or she is doing well. People who were given this type of feedback as children are more likely to give up in the face of failure as an adults, assuming they simply don't have what it takes to succeed.
Instill a growth mindset in your child by instead celebrating effort -- for example, "I love that you stuck it out and didn't quit the softball team, even when it was hard."