Raising kids

It is better, according to a set of University of Pennsylvania researchers, to praise a kid for working hard than to praise him/her for being smart:


If you praise the kid for being smart, he/she will be more reluctant to undertake challenges; the kid is more likely to test limits if they are praised for their effort.  When I was in school, the kids who got good grades without much effort were admired; the ones who worked hard were put down as "slogs". Yet, in life, the successful people are those who can pick themselves up after a disaster and keep going.  Being risk-averse gets you nowhere.


  1. This made an interesting read. Thanks a lot. Since my school years are over, i can't do much about those maths grades (actually, did reasonably well)! But i picked up a few important things from the article. Firstly, the importance of perseverance and hard work. Secondly, the important role that mindset plays (largely based on attitude). Thirdly, passion and dedication.

    I do have a comment though-

    In my opinion, the ultimate goal (and emphasis) of any education system (or for parents) should be to help students (children) find a source of motivation and passion. It is interest, talent, skill, which actually drives a student to work harder rather than the other way around. And this interest or skill comes from 'innate' ability or intelligence more naturally than it comes from effort (no doubt that skill can be developed by effort as well). So, if something comes naturally (even grades) or effortlessly, then it should be recognised and then nurtured through effort. Nobody is undermining the importance of effort. But why pit effort against ability? Perhaps the author should have cautioned parents whose children have 'discovered' an ability or talent (for which reason they get the 'intelligent' tag), instead of discouraging (or appearing to discourage) them from appreciating (or even emphasising and pursuing) that 'special gift’ at all.

  2. The authors are not pitting effort against ability. Their point is that kids should be encouraged to work hard whether or not they have "natural" ability in whatever it is they are doing.

    If they have natural ability, they will (as you point out) get better at it.

    If they don't have natural ability, well ... in life most people will have to do things that they are no good at. And still be expected to do well at it.