Sunday, February 25, 2007

You're so smart, I'm making you stupid.

I know that everyone and their daycare worker must be talking about this article from New York Magazine entitled "How Not to Talk to Your Kids" by Po Bronson. (I thought Teletubbies could barely talk, let alone write....sorry, I couldn't help myself. The kid loves 'em.), but I felt like I had a some perspective to add on this.

The article is a bit lengthy, but the gist of it is that kids fare better when they are praised for their effort or skill at a specific task rather than simply being told that they are smart.

Growing up I was one of the "smart kids". School came very easily until University, and didn't get really hard until grad school. My whole life I was told how smart I was, and looking back, I realize that I fell precisely into the trap that the article outlines. It turns out that kids who are praised for being smart rather than working hard are more likely to give up quickly when faced with something that doesn't come easily.

Sounds a lot like my life. Piano, guitar, karate, tai chi, basketball, soccer, quantum mechanics...the list goes on. Stuff that initially interested me but that I let go or settled on being mediocre at because it was hard.

I find myself falling into the same trap with the kid already. Hopefully this article will help with that.

Technorati Tags: , ,


Mike said...

That's good advice. I notice myself falling into that kind of praise when I'm being lazy.

Kevin said...

The article reminded me of my almost 3 year old son. He's very smart (not as smart as that kid, but pretty intelligent) but when he comes across something he can't do he says, "This is very tricky." and tries again, if he can't do it the second time he gets mad, grunts and yells and throws whatever he was trying to work with and then starts counting, reading or something else he is good at. Even if his mother and I try to help him solve what he was trying to do he doesn't want anything to do with it any more. I think that is one reason we're having such a hard time potty training him. He is afraid he will mess up so would rather just wear diapers than make a mistake.