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The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

By TLS | January 25, 2008

I recently came across a fascinating article in Scientific American about what contributes to succes in the classroom and later in life. The study found that reinforcing the idea in your child’s mind that he or she is smart is less effective than reinforcing the value of working hard.

It comes down to establishing one of two frames of mind in the child - a fixed mind-set or a growth mind-set. A fixed intelligence mind-set is one where the individual believes that intelligence is fixed. A growth mind-set is one where the individual believes intelligence is fluid and can grow and expand with effort. The article further states:

A belief in fixed intelligence also makes people less willing to admit to errors or to confront and remedy their deficiencies in school, at work and in their social relationships…Those with a fixed mind-set are less likely than those with a growth mind-set to broach problems in their relationships and to try to solve them.

I have found myself in the position of praising my children with phrases such as “I knew you could do it. You are so smart!” I thought this was a good thing! :) I’m sure it is, but it may not be the best way to prepare my kids for the future. According to the article:

How do we transmit a growth mind-set to our children? One way is by telling stories about achievements that result from hard work.

I am going to make sure that the future praise and encouragement I offer my children focuses on the value of the effort behind the success, the value of working hard. It couldn’t hurt. I have already noticed my son getting complacent and bored in school. Perhaps he has begun to fall into the doldrums of the fixed mind-set. Perhaps it is nothing, but changing the method of encouragement I offer him could greatly improve his outlook on school (see the article for more).

Topics: Education, Family |

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