Ever wonder if you can also raise a smart kid? Ever hear your child engage in small talks with you and you hear from your child saying that XXX in school said this and that to them, which you would agree and tell your child that XXX is right about it, XXX always perform better in grades, or XXX is very smart among in their class. Would you then wonder their ability to communicate with their peers efficiently, or how my child is also able to apprehend the same ability like them. Well I believe your child is good, but many times we parents want our kids to be smarter or better than any other kids around.
It is the same feeling as an adult when you know that you have a friend, colleague/ peers, who is constantly on “top form”. And how you wish you could be like them. Yes, our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability – along with confidence in that ability- is a recipe for success.
Well, everything starts from young. Provide them with proper education, food and shelter, do not necessary raise a smart kid. Neither rewarding them nor punishments could raise a smart kid either! As parents, you accompany them during their growing period. Hence you need to focus on the process of nurturing them. Easy to say, but difficult to implement. Read on further.
Let’s start from story-telling. Kids look into details and they are full of questions. And how many times you or you would see other parents giving rubbish or brushing aside the child’s question with nonsense? From the story-telling, for instance, talking about mathematical geniuses who were more or less born that way puts students in a fixed mind-set, but descriptions of great mathematicians who fell in love with math and developed amazing skills engenders a growth mind-set. A test has been done with 373 students for two years. As the tester predicted, the students with a growth mind-set felt that learning was a more important goal in school than getting good grades. In addition, they held hard work in high regard, believing that the more you labored at something, the better you would become at it. They understood that even geniuses have to work hard for their great accomplishments. Confronted by a setback such as a disappointing test grade, students with a growth mind-set said they would study harder or try a different strategy for mastering the material.
The students who held a fixed mind-set, however, were concerned about looking smart with less regard for learning. They had negative views of effort, believing that having to work hard at something was a sign of low ability. They thought that a person with talent or intelligence did not need to work hard to do well. Attributing a bad grade to their own lack of ability, those with a fixed mind-set said that they would study less in the future, try never to take that subject again and consider cheating on future tests. So eventually, students with growth mindset math grades overtook those of the other students by the end of the first semester—and the gap between the two groups continued to widen during the two years we followed them.
Let us come to praising the kids. Many parents also believe that they should praise the kids often, telling them how brilliant and talented they are, and how smart they are. But research has suggested this is misguided.
In studies involving several hundred fifth graders published in 1998, for example, psychologists gave children questions from a nonverbal IQ test. After the first 10 problems, on which most children did fairly well, some of them were praised for their intelligence: “Wow … that’s a really good score. You must be smart at this.” The others were then commended for their process: “Wow … that’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard.” They found that intelligence praise encouraged a fixed mind-set more often than did pats on the back for effort. Those congratulated for their intelligence, for example, shied away from a challenging assignment—they wanted an easy one instead—far more often than the kids applauded for their process. (Most of those lauded for their hard work wanted the difficult problem set from which they would learn.) When the psychologists gave everyone hard problems anyway, those praised for being smart became discouraged, doubting their ability. And their scores, even on an easier problem set they (psychologists) gave them afterward, declined as compared with their previous results on equivalent problems. In contrast, students praised for their hard work did not lose confidence when faced with the harder questions, and their performance improved markedly on the easier problems that followed.
In addition to the above, parents can help by providing explicit instruction regarding the kids’ mind as learning machine. The kids can read and discussed an article entitled “You Can Grow Your Brain.” They were taught that the brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with use and that learning prompts neurons in the brain to grow new connections. From such instruction, many students began to see themselves as agents of their own brain development.
To reiterate, praise can be very valuable but it must be carefully worded. Praise for the specific process a child used to accomplish something fosters motivation and confidence by focusing children on the actions that lead to success. Such process praise may involve commending effort, strategies, focus, persistence in the face of difficulty, and willingness to take on challenges. The following are examples of such communications:
“You did a good job drawing. I like the detail you added to the people’s faces.”
“You really studied for your social studies test. You read the material over several times, outlined it and tested yourself on it. It really worked!”
“I like the way you tried a lot of different strategies on that math problem until you finally got it.”
“That was a hard English assignment, but you stuck with it until you got it done.”
“You stayed at your desk and kept your concentration. That’s great!”
“I like that you took on that challenging project for your science class. It will take a lot of work—doing the research, designing the apparatus, making the parts and building it. You are going to learn a lot of great things.”
Now you see how it should be done properly?
Extracted from Scientific American