Knowing how best to encourage your kids can be tricky - you can find a wide range of advice just about everywhere. When they're struggling at school, in extracurricular activities and with friends, however, getting the right words from you can make all of the difference. Here are some tips for helping your kids succeed:

Praise hard work

According to a study from Columbia University, praising your children's hard work rather than their intelligence or innate ability encourages future success. Researchers explained that rewarding a good grade with "Great job, you're so smart!" teaches kids to set goals based on performance. Essentially, they'll want to get that same praise again, which they'll earn through doing well. The down side is that children who think this way are afraid to fail because they won't be seen as smart or talented anymore. They often forgo learning experiences in favor of just getting a good grade.

Alternatively, the study suggests attributing success to hard work. When your kids perform well in school or elsewhere, say something like "You really studied hard to earn that grade, good job." Over time, this teaches kids that putting in effort will get them praise. Even if they make mistakes, they'll be proud of giving it their all, and they'll know they can overcome challenges in the future.

Girl working on homework at a desk.Praising hard work allows your kids to feel confident even when making mistakes.

Let them make mistakes

Watching your kids struggle can be hard; you're a parent, so you want to make life as easy as possible. However, if they wrestle with obstacles, they're likely to learn more than if the problem were easy or went away altogether. Allow your kids to get answers wrong or achieve poor grades instead of giving them the answers. They'll learn from their mistakes and do better next time without your help.

Of course, you can help them reflect on why something went awry. For instance, if their friends don't want to play anymore, encourage your children to be introspective and discover the real reason why. Maybe they did something they didn't realize was mean.

Teach habits that support success

Setting goals, making plans, studying hard, avoiding procrastination, etc., are all habits that can help your children succeed no matter what they put their minds to. Encourage your kids to practice these habits whenever pertinent. For instance, if your kids express frustration about a big project at school, help them break it down into smaller, more achievable pieces. Whenever they finish one of those goals, praise their hard work and effort in the face of such a big task.