“You are soooo smart!” As quickly as the words left my lips, I muttered to myself, “I’m not supposed to say that.” Now granted, I was talking to my pooch who had just brought her KONG toy to me for our workday ritual (a dab of peanut butter before I leave for work). However, pup aside, there is evidence that we are not helping children by telling them they are smart.
We want children to develop a growth mindset, not a fixed mindset. You see, intelligence is not fixed. The brain is like a muscle—the more you use it, the more it grows. If a child believes he is smart, he may be less likely to try a task he views as challenging. If he’s smart, he shouldn’t fail, right? By helping children develop a growth mindset, we teach them that, with tenacity and effort, their learning is essentially unlimited. And guess what? The same is true for people of all ages.
So this year, make a promise to yourself to avoid labeling children as smart. Acknowledge and praise the learning process rather than the learning outcome. For example, I will now say to my pooch, “I really like how you bring your KONG toy to me each morning!”
What phrases do you use to encourage learning?