Positive affirmation is generally considered a good thing, but would it surprise you if I told you that letting your child know that he or she is smart may be detrimental to their future success? According to recent studies, it’s true.

An interesting article from New York Magazine, “How Not to Talk to Your Kids,” outlines why parents may want to stay away from praising their kids’ intelligence: it might cause children to stay away from things they may not be initially successful at.

It makes sense when you put yourself in your child’s shoes – if Mom and Dad label you as “smart” for succeeding, does it mean you’re not intelligent when you fail? To put it another way, if kids think innate intelligence is the key to success, then any effort they put into learning something is proof they don’t have what it takes. In their minds, effort becomes stigmatized.

Yet, we know failure is part of life, and often a pit stop on the way to success. Hard work and perseverance are a vital part of learning, discovering and creating.

In fact, a colleague recently shared this great little video with some members of our team. I think it makes clear that a lot of good can come from swinging and missing.

(Please visit the site to view this video)

What’s a parent to do, then?

Studies suggest that moms and dads can better serve their children by praising them for their effort, not their smarts. Doing so encourages the behavior and habits that eventually lead to success. That’s because the amount of hard work your child dedicates to a task is something he or she can control.


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