Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Don't tell your kids they're smart

I had seen something similar to this before. This one is from Scientific American which headlines as The Secret to Raising Smart Kids - Hint: Don't tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life. I agree with this - I grew up with everyone praising me about how smart I was and when I can't do something right I think I'm stupid. I see the same effects on K1. We've been careful not to praise her but she still thinks she's stupid when she can't get something right. Unfortunately, I can't seem to do anything about her teachers or some of her peers' parents. She hears that she's smart - a lot more than she needs to, I think. In parent-teacher conferences, the teachers tell us she's smart and I think she sometimes overhears them when they sometimes tell it to us informally. This article has the benefit of describing an experiment though not on young children. By itself the experiment doesn't convince me so my bias is due to my prior. The effect of hearing they are smart is cumulative and the earlier they hear they are smart the harder it is for them to shake off the label. In any case, these are just gut feelings colored by personal experience more than any sound data or scientific evidence.

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