toddlersAffirmations and positive feedback are good ways to help mold and shape young minds but experts are finding that if parents and caregivers can tailor their feedback in specific ways it will have a better impact.

According to research explained in The Atlantic, parents offering praise to toddlers will set their children on a path to greater achievement if they praise the child for their actions and not for who they are. This may sound strange since it seems like our culture focuses on self-esteem and telling people they have what it takes to succeed. So why is it better to say good job" rather than "good boy" or "good girl?"

Researchers from Stanford and the University of Chicago:

"…videotaped diverse group of over 50 toddlers interacting with their parents at the ages of one, two, and three. Five years later, the children who were praised more for what they did than who they were ended up being more equipped to take on challenges."

These children "were more likely to believe in the ability of individuals to learn and become more intelligent…" and "They were also able to come up with more strategies for dealing with setbacks.." Children who were videotaped being praised for their actions were also more likely to want to take on challenging activities.

Before parents who praise children's characteristics start to worry, the article points out that complimenting a child for who he or she is will not have a detrimental effect on that child. Researchers did, however, conclude that girls were praised for their personality traits more often than boys were. This lead them to see that boys were being urged to use their skills and talents while it is possible that girls who were praised for characteristics might not see how they could improve upon these characteristics.