“Praise kids for their work principle, not their intelligence.” Praising a smart kid for his intelligence may make the youngster anxious and ill-equipped to deal with failure, a team of psychologists has found. Science says that praising your kids for being smart can backfire. It is a safer bet to praise them for being hard workers.
Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience published a study in 2006. Jennifer A. Mangels and her research team recruited scholar students and determined which of two schools of thought they each fell into by asking questions about intelligence such as “You have a certain amount of intelligence and you can’t do much to change it.” Those who agreed with statements like that one united with what’s known as the “entity” or “fixed” viewpoint, or the idea that intelligence can’t be changed. Those who disagreed united with the “incremental” or “growth” view, or the perspective that intelligence can be improved.
The students sat at a computer and answered questions on a variety of academic subjects. They also specified how confident they were in their answers. After every answer, the computer told them whether they were right or wrong, and what the correct answer was. Then they took the test again, but this time only faced the questions they had gotten wrong the first time. All the while, researchers measured their brain activity.
As for the results, both the “fixed” and “growth” belief groups did equally well and were equally confident on the first test, but on the second test, the “growth” students were more likely to get the previously incorrect questions correct. Measures of brain activity showed that these students’ brains seemed to show deeper attention when their wrong answer was corrected, suggesting that they were learning better than the “fixed” students. This says big things about the power of perspective: if you believe that intelligence is changeable, you actually learn better.
Encourage children to exercise their mind like a muscle, and then praise them for their persistence, effort, and hard work, rather than them being smart or intelligent.
“Praise your kids for their work principle, not their intelligence.” Do you agree with this statement? Let us know in the comments below.