Don't tell your kids they're smart

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies, Day Care & Education

Jared is pretty smart. At not-quite-five, he's already reading at a second-grade level and doing basic addition and subtraction. (Yes, I'm bragging. Sorry. 8^) According to this article in New York Magazine, however, I may not be doing him any favors by telling him he's smart. The author argues that kids who are told they are smart learn to focus on appearing smart and thus avoid challenges which might not come easy to them.

Instead, parents are supposed to praise their effort and the process they go through to reach a goal. "When we praise children for their intelligence," wrote one researcher. "We tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don't risk making mistakes."

Praise in general, however, isn't bad the author notes -- it just has to be the right type of praise. It has to be specific and sincere, and it is much better to praise effort than an innate ability. This all seems to make sense, but as a parent, I think that avoiding the gushing "You're SO smart!" comments is pretty darn hard.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.