How to Truly Encourage Children

Praise kids for ACTIONS and EFFORT, not for natural gifts like intelligence. And remember that intelligence isn’t a virtue; criminals can be intelligent, too. In comparison, having wisdom and pursuing knowledge are virtues. Did you know that kids who are consistently praised for being “smart” are more likely to cheat to get good grades? It becomes an identity that they feel they have to protect.

What if we praised our kids more for being honest, kind, and hard-working? Think of the wonderful places these virtues could take them when incorporated into their identity… People tend to become who they are repeatedly told they are!

A little clip from a professor at Stanford to back us up:

“In a fixed mindset, students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

—Carol Dweck, Stanford University

Article By: Shelby DeBause, MA, LMFT

Blog Post by: Sarah Warner, MS