Raising Children: Praising Children for their smartness makes them dumber

We all want our children to do well and become achievers in life. As a result, the children are subjected to our praise and criticism, as per their performance. Lot of research has been done on positive criticism of children’s performance. However, recent studies have opened new and interesting horizons for research on praising our children.

kids who are praised for their smartness can feel and act dumber than kids who are praised for their efforts

image courtesy Google

In her extraordinary book ‘Mindset’, Dr. C. S. Dweck has presented the view that telling children they are SMART actually makes them feel and act DUMBER. Interesting?

In course of the research, an experiment was conducted on a group of children where each of them was given problems to solve in an IQ test. Most of the students did faily well. Some of the students were praised for their ability. They were told: Wow, you got eight right. That’s really good score. You must be SMART at this.” Other students were told: Wow, you got eight right. That’s a really good score. You must have WORKED HARD.’’

Then all the children were given a set of harder problems. As it turned out, ‘’the performance of ability-praised (SMART) students was way below the performance of effort-praised student, who actually improved their performance.

We can find live examples in and around us. How many of our schoolmates who were often told how smart or talented they were, or how much natural ability they had in sports etc, were the kids who never lived upto their potential. The kids who really did well in later life were the ones who were told: ‘’Oh, you must have worked hard to perform so well despite of not being a genius.’’

It seems that the ‘effortpraised’ kids learn to be internally defined and keep their enjoyment of learning up. They are the ones to be excited by the process of learning rather than achievement itself. On the other hand, abilitypraised child continues to be externally defined as he feels: ‘’I get praise when I succeed. The appreciation is attached to success.’’ This brings fear of failure and de-motivates them from taking new challenges.

So, the research says: Kids with a grown-mindset – with intent to learn, are likely to do better in life than the kids with bornmindset-the natural talent and intelligence.


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