Whenever I think back to my school life I am reminded of the difficulties of it. An emotional roller coaster of who is whose best friend, who has the coolest clothes, who is smart, cool and popular. This is not even including the schoolwork! Fitting in seemed to be the aim of the game, to follow the crowd. To like the popular clothes, music and products that everyone else did at that time. Nobody wanted to be too tall, too short, too intelligent. No one wanted to be labelled as uncool or nerdy. We went along with this because we didn’t know what else to do. No one really told us that we had a choice, that we alone control our own reactions, that our attitude, the way we communicate and our outlook can change how happy we will be throughout our lives. I wish someone had told me, do you?
This may seem an unlikely title, given that at InspiredKidsAustralia we’re all for praising kids and making them feel good about themselves.
We’ve certainly been guilty of telling countless kids we’ve worked with (and are related to) that they are smart..
However, we’ve recently come across some fascinating research which indicates that praising kids for their intelligence can actually be detrimental, as it encourages what Carol Dweck and her team at Stanford University refer to as a ‘fixed mindset’. In other words the idea that ability or intelligence is ‘fixed’ and that they’re either good at something or not.
When your child first came along, you and probably everyone around you couldn’t help celebrating them. You were probably totally consumed by their every move and mannerism. Coincidentally, this is also how children initially approach life, engaged and inspired by every moment. This is because in both instances, everything is new, and there is a natural curiosity and amazement when exploring something new.