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Praise Children for Effort, Not Intelligence
November 4, 2019
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
-Ellen Parr

In an article on the curiosity.com website, Ashley Hamer writes: “Science says that praising your kids for being smart can backfire — it's a safer bet to praise them for being hard workers...

How could praising a child for something as valuable as intelligence be bad? By making children think that their achievement was a result of something they are, rather than something they did… Repeatedly, studies going as far back as the 1980s have shown that when children are praised for intelligence instead of effort, they do worse on academic tasks…Encourage children to exercise their mind like a muscle, and then praise them for their persistence, effort, and hard work rather than just being smart.”

And writing in the book, Art of Leadership: Promoting Early Childhood Services, Anne W. Mitchell makes the point that when early childhood educators understand information such as Hamer’s article above, children’s development blossoms. Mitchell offers “three basic ingredients that make a high-quality program:

  1. Structure: small classes, enough adults, stable adults;
  2. Environment: a supportive learning environment guided by well-designed curriculum;
  3. Process: effective teachers who interact positively with each child, supported with professional development, reflective supervision, and good compensation.”

Source:  “Here’s Why You Should Praise Your Kids for Their Work Ethic, Not Their Smarts,” by Ashley Hamer, curiosity.com, February 23, 2017

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