When you are proud of your child or are trying to encourage them, praise their process and their behavior, and be as specific as possible. Comment on hard work, concentration, and perseverance. For example,
“Whew, it seems like that one took a lot of concentration; you worked hard.”
Or, skip the praise all together and ask them a question about their process. For example,
“What was it like when you figured out that word?”
Your attentive questioning and interest in their experience helps them feel attended to and valued, and it may give them a more internalized sense of pride, as they respond, “I felt good.” Numerous studies have shown that praising from a growth mindset increases motivation and performance, while praise from a fixed mindset, such as “you’re so smart,” actually makes kids less motivated and less perseverant.