Should we NOT tell our kids they are smart?

Are we actually hurting our children’s ability to cope with challenges and be persistent by praising their intelligence instead of their effort?

All my Facebook friends were abuzz this weekend about an article in New York magazine that suggests just that – that praise for intelligence makes kids want to look smart and not take risks or make mistakes. The researchers believe it tells them to throw in the towel (or cheat) when they finally confront something they don’t know how to do.

For 10 years, Carol Dweck and a team at Columbia (she’s now at Stanford) has studied the affect of praise on students. The article explains Dweck’s experiments in detail on pages one and two but I cannot pull that many quotes from it. So please read the article for all the info. (I am just pulling some highlights.)

From New York magazine:

“…’When we praise children for their intelligence,’ Dweck wrote in her study summary, ‘we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don’t risk making mistakes.’ And that’s what the fifth-graders had done: They’d chosen to look smart and avoid the risk of being embarrassed. ”

“In a subsequent round, none of the fifth-graders had a choice. The test was difficult, designed for kids two years ahead of their grade level. Predictably, everyone failed. But again, the two groups of children, divided at random at the study’s start, responded differently. Those praised for their effort on the first test assumed they simply hadn’t focused hard enough on this test. ‘They got very involved, willing to try every solution to the puzzles,’ Dweck recalled. ‘Many of them remarked, unprovoked, ‘This is my favorite test.’ Not so for those praised for their smarts. They assumed their failure was evidence that they weren’t really smart at all. “Just watching them, you could see the strain. They were sweating and miserable.’ ….”

“Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. ‘Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,’ she explains. ‘They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.’ ”

Dweck found that smart kids felt they didn’t need to put out effort because they are smart. And if they have to put out effort then that must mean they are actually dumb.

Dweck says we need to emphasize that the brain is a muscle and it needs to be exercised to grow. We need to give it harder work to make you smarter.

Then the article goes into self-esteem. You may wonder when trophies started being handed out to all kids. Well this article explains that trend.

“Since the 1969 publication of The Psychology of Self-Esteem, in which Nathaniel Branden opined that self-esteem was the single most important facet of a person, the belief that one must do whatever he can to achieve positive self-esteem has become a movement with broad societal effects. Anything potentially damaging to kids’ self-esteem was axed. Competitions were frowned upon. Soccer coaches stopped counting goals and handed out trophies to everyone. Teachers threw out their red pencils. Criticism was replaced with ubiquitous, even undeserved, praise.”

However, the article suggests that these studies were wrong. That kids are actually suspicious of praise and actually think you don’t think they are smart or successful and need that support.

The article suggests that when you do praise, it needs to be specific and sincere. But some think that criticism may actually be more helpful sending the message that the parent or teacher believes you can improve your performance further. (I did have a professor who kept giving me Bs on papers and other ding-dongs in the class were getting As. It made me so mad. Finally the last grade I got was an A! I pushed myself to get that A. I was determined. I definitely think he was grading me harder to push me to do more.)

The article then goes on to talk about how by giving too many rewards kids may not learn to try, try again.

“But it turns out that the ability to repeatedly respond to failure by exerting more effort—instead of simply giving up—is a trait well studied in psychology. People with this trait, persistence, rebound well and can sustain their motivation through long periods of delayed gratification. Delving into this research, I learned that persistence turns out to be more than a conscious act of will; it’s also an unconscious response, governed by a circuit in the brain. Dr. Robert Cloninger at Washington University in St. Louis located the circuit in a part of the brain called the orbital and medial prefrontal cortex. It monitors the reward center of the brain, and like a switch, it intervenes when there’s a lack of immediate reward. When it switches on, it’s telling the rest of the brain, “Don’t stop trying. There’s dopa [the brain’s chemical reward for success] on the horizon.” While putting people through MRI scans, Cloninger could see this switch lighting up regularly in some. In others, barely at all.”

I think that we do tell our kids that they are smart but we also emphasize to them they have to work hard and not waste what God has given them. We tell them a story about a friend of ours that was literally a genius in school and was last seen taking money in a parking garage. This friend didn’t want to work hard or apply himself.

We have worked hard to make sure they are doing challenging work at school and aren’t just breezing through with half effort. (This is part of a current middle school dilemma was a facing that I plan to write about soon.)

I do think after reading this article I will be more aware of what I am praising and how I am praising. I knew you were supposed to be specific but I think I will work harder at praising the process and sticking to things.

So what do you think? Are you buying you shouldn’t praise intelligence but hard work? What do you think you are currently saying to your kids? Will you change what you praise or how you praise based on this research?

57 comments Add your comment

Anj

March 26th, 2012
5:42 am

“We tell them a story about a friend of ours that was literally a genius in school and was last seen taking money in a parking garage. This friend didn’t want to work hard or apply himself.”

WHOA! Stop right there.

You know so much about this person? You know they didn’t have any problems? No learning disabilities? No mental illness? No depression? No anxiety disorder? No OCD?

And what are you leading you children to think about people who work in those positions? Less than? Worth less? Failures? Not worthy of their respect?

The study is interesting and I will think about it. Your statement is interesting, I will think about it. I will think of adding it to my list of things I will never say to my children.

fcm on my cell

March 26th, 2012
6:45 am

I wonder if those who praise intelligence also tend to be helicopter parents. I think kids who take calculated risk probably have parents who do not hover. Rather parents who set boundaries and encourage thinking / problem solving

catlady

March 26th, 2012
7:00 am

I don’t recall ever telling my kids they were smart. Clever, hardworking, yes. My son, with the most sheer brainpower, is my least accomplished, according to the world’s standards. (He suffers from PTSD, which was unrecognized as he was growing up). However, if you need someone to generate ideas and solutions, no holds barred, he is the guy. If you want something fixed, he is the guy. My youngest daughter, who has seen everything that her 9 years older sister has accomplished, has seen that as a challenge, and worked her tail off to be more accomplished. Big sis plays an instrument? Little sis plays THREE. Big sis was a dancer? Little sis was an accomplished dancer AND actor.

I know my kids at school who have had their intelligence praised are generally not all that. They seem to think by birthright everything will be easy, and find out the world doesn’t care what mama thinks!

catlady

March 26th, 2012
7:06 am

BTW, my son was reading well at age 4, and was reading 5th grade level in kindergarten. When he finally got tested for gifted, and placed (which involved a lot of effort and money on my part), he came home after several days of gifted service and said he didn’t want to be in the program! When I asked why, he said, “There are kids in there who are smarter than me!” That alone was worth it, for him to see reality.

Contrast that with my youngest, who hounded the gifted teacher into looking at her scores and placing her.

motherjanegoose

March 26th, 2012
7:38 am

I am with catlady on this, in that I do not remember saying…” you are so smart!” I remember telling mine how proud I was of them and that they were doing a great job etc. My son was also reading well ( upside down too…not that it mattered to anyone) at four and daughter was in tears right before Kinder, ” I can’t go to Kinder because I do not know how to read!” I hugged her and reminded her that there were many other things she was great at and that she would learn how to read in Kinder…and she did. BTW…her handwriting was amazing ( a lefty) and way ahead of her brother’s. Each child had strengths in different areas and they still do! Isn’t that how adults are? I HATE puzzles and can barely put one together but my husband and daughter are amazing at puzzles.

JATL

March 26th, 2012
7:42 am

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling your kid that he or she is smart once in awhile or to make a point. I’ve said to my six year old, “You’re too smart to act like____” or “I know you can do better because you’re a smart boy.” However, constantly playing up how intelligent they are or telling them they’re smart constantly isn’t any better for them than telling them how good-looking they are all the time. Sooner or later it all goes to their heads. I like to compliment individual accomplishments and be more specific with my praise: “I’m so proud of how fast you learned your sight words!” or “You were having problems with that math, and you really practiced, so I’m proud of your determination.” You don’t ALWAYS have to say something though -and PLEASE, parents, I’m so sick of people who give treats and rewards for EVERY single little thing. OH -Johnny tied his shoes -here’s a piece of candy. OH -Susie acted the way she was supposed to anyway -here’s a new toy. BLECH!

I do think that two things happen when you just constantly tell a kid how smart they are -either they come to think you’re just blowing smoke (particularly if they’re having problems in one or more academic areas) and/or they wind up with an inflated sense of themselves and don’t feel they need to try or that everyone else is stupid.

I think one of the other posts touches on the helicopter parent issue -and that’s probably true. We need to let our kids experience failure! It helps them more than hurts them -the younger the better. I’m not saying to never help them with school work or get tutors or anything, but it’s okay for them to fall and learn how to pick themselves up.

library volunteer

March 26th, 2012
8:03 am

This whole discussion only applies when the school is actually able to challenge the smart kids. My son is 99th percentile across all subject areas, and all the school could offer was a one-day per week pull out gifted class, where even then it was “enrichment” activities”, not the type of challenging math, science and literature he needed. What are you supposed to tell this type of child when they come home every day asking why they are different? I dread the day that my son “hits the wall” so to speak, with a problem that he actually can’t solve, because he sure hasn’t seen it at school.

catlady

March 26th, 2012
8:08 am

MJG–Haha about puzzles! My version of being sent to h3ll: Having to be in the Junior League, drive on 285 on a Friday in the rain, and work crossword and jigsaw puzzles! I am trying to be good so I won’t get sent there!

catlady

March 26th, 2012
8:12 am

library volunteer: We were in Tallahassee when my son was young and their gifted was the best: A pullout class every day and twice a week they were bused to FAMU to do special classes. My son (3rd grade) did a class on chemistry and another on annotating music, as I recall. Contrasted with his later experiences elsewhere, which were..no so much. They did, however, get him away from the “lump-lumps” as my daughter called them–the sluggish, ill-behaved, unmotivated kids–for a while.

catlady

March 26th, 2012
8:14 am

Theresa, how about a blog about Anj’s idea–things I will never say to my children? It might be lots of fun!

Jennifer

March 26th, 2012
8:25 am

Maybe the danger is in telling a kid that isn’t really smart that they are smart. I mean honestly, not everyone has the same level of intelligence. And library has it right, if you aren’t truly challenging the smart ones, that’s when you have a problem. They will never learn to take risks and look for other solutions because they don’t have to. I barely studied for my 12 years of school, didn’t have to. Got to GA Tech and the first two years killed me! By my 3rd year I was learning how to study and by years 4 and 5 (yeah, it takes 5!) I was making presidents list. The important thing is there is always room for improvement, regardless of intelligence. True geniuses are always working to prove or discover something new.

Really, we need to focus on telling our kids the truth. Not telling them they are smart or everyone’s a winner not to hurt their self esteem. Or intentionally not telling them they’re smart so they’ll work harder.

RJ

March 26th, 2012
8:30 am

@catlady, I have a similar situation with my son. I knew he was gifted at 3 when he was able to do kindergarten math. I gave it to him because I was working with his older sister and he wanted to do “something” too. Imagine my suprise when he completed it, refused to use the counting bears I gave him, and got it all right. I still don’t understand how he can just do math in his head, but he can. I was the worst math student around. I never asked he be tested for gifted, I just waited for the teacher to tell me. He was and loved it in the beginning. By middle school he hated it and wanted out because they were “smarties” and “lame”. He doesn’t work to his potential at all and it is extremely frustrating. If we allowed him to make all C’s he would. Yes, we told him he was smart. But I don’t think it would’ve mattered if it hadn’t. He’s lazy. Always has been. We also told his sister she was smart. She was a hardworker, but not gifted. She pushes herself. Takes AP and honors classes. Telling them may make them lazy, but I swear some kids are just born that way.

@Teresa, I often tell my kids about one of the brightest kids I ever taught. He washes cars for a living now.

motherjanegoose

March 26th, 2012
8:30 am

@catlady, given my lack of spatial aptitude, it is amazing that I can navigate a car all over the country and actually arrive at my destination! I used to bring the Kinder puzzles home and let my husband put them together…36 pieces max and he was kind enough to do it. My own Mother LOVED puzzles but it sure skipped me. She, however, could not read a map to save her soul.

I am with you about your version of being sent to h3ll. Guess that is why we enjoy each other’s company. Maybe expounding on that topic would be fun too?

I’ll add one from this weekend:
staying in a hotel room ( in Canada which is lovely) that faces an indoor water park with a 3 story slide filled with over 100 screaming children from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. I had work to do on my lap top and had to wear ear plugs the entire time I was not at my meeting and in my room. The staff assured me that my room ( on the third floor) would be quiet…NOT ( I asked 3 times before I checked in).

Oh yes, the midwesterners and northerners LOVE those hotels with indoor pool/water slides and they pack it in over the weekend. The kids are cooped up due to weather and need to let off steam…I agree! They should have FUN but the front desk might realize that someone who spends almost $600 to be there for just a few days for a business meeting on site could need a different room. Glad to be home to a quiet house!

RJ

March 26th, 2012
8:32 am

I also think being extremely smart is as much of a gift as having the ability to sing well, play an instrument, etc. We all have gifts. It’s okay to remind somebody of their gift. However not using it is sinful (a college professor told me that once).

JATL

March 26th, 2012
8:35 am

@catlady -I like crosswords and jigsaw puzzles, but my version of hell would definitely include 285 in the rain and Junior League too!

AND I love the idea of a topic -What you would never say to your kids AND a follow up -What you always thought you would never say to your kids, but have!

My Kid's Head is Big Enough

March 26th, 2012
8:40 am

I don’t care if they’re at the top of a class of 25. I don’t care if they “exceed” in all areas of the (dismal) CRCTs. OK, 95% on the nationwide ITBS is good. But don’t walk around thinking that you’re some kind of genius until you can score higher than average on the AIME (2 out of 15 in some years!), or win the Westinghouse, or get a spot on the Physics Olympiad team. Until then, my kids had better put forth their 100%. There’s a world full of “smart” Germans, Indians, Chinese, Koreans, etc who can run circles around us.

DB

March 26th, 2012
8:59 am

Praising a kid for their intelligence is about as useless as praising someone for their blue eyes — it’s not something that they have much control over. It’s what they DO with it that’s important. You can’t “give” a child self-esteem — self-esteem only comes from facing challenge and learning that you have it within you to overcome them — whether it’s a 2 year old learning how to use the potty, or a 20 year old struggling with a demanding college course load. That’s one main reason I never shared my child’s achievement tests scores with them in elementary school, or their IQ when they were tested. (But then again, our school didn’t put a lot of emphasis on the achievement tests in elementary school, because the schools was using them primarily as a gaug for how the SCHOOL was doing in teaching material, and using the test to identify weaknesses in the curriculum, so it was easy to casually dismiss the scores). I ESPECIALLY never shared the IQ test — jeez, that’s the LAST thing they needed to know. It wouLd have been like winning the lottery for some people — “Hey, I’m smart! Cool!” THEY know if they are smarter than the average bear, if they pick up things more quickly than the other kids, or if they’re getting the homework faster or can write better, or by hearing the questions of others in class, etc. And they figured out quickly that no matter how smart you are in college, you still have to work to achieve what you want to achieve — med school, vet school, law school, or whatever their goals are.

Actions have always spoken louder than words.

lakerat

March 26th, 2012
8:59 am

…and here I spent 18 years telling my kids that it was OK to be “smart” (they didn’t want their friends who did not do as well in school to not like them because they made some higher grades)…

motherjanegoose

March 26th, 2012
9:05 am

One thing my two have learned is that if you are near the top of the pile in ES-HS, things DO change. When you get to college there is much more competition, if you attend a school where acceptance is somewhat difficult. While there, you will have to work harder and if you sailed through school with your parents telling you how smart you are…you will be all alone at college and have to work hard to keep your grades. When you finish undergrad and move forward, the competition is even more fierce ( as we have seen with our son). He has hung in there. I do tell him that while he may not have entered with the highest GPA or the most aptitude, but he has endured and we are encouraged that he can pull it off. He is on the home stretch for classes now. Nothing is definite but the end is in sight.

Reality

March 26th, 2012
9:07 am

Hmmm..several comments.. First..REALLY what is the definition of SMART? Steve Jobs was “smart” never finished college, Einstein was “smart” flunked math etc… Smart really has nothing to do with school or grades, even though we make that our focus for kids. Smart people still get depression, still get divorced, and still make bad choices in life. I prefer the term “book smart.”

Second, if we look at schools and their “gifted programs” we have WAY TO MANY “SMART KIDS.” The reality is parents want to SHOW OFF their smart kids and TEACHERS and SCHOOLS want the funds that come with filling classrooms with smart kids. Instead we should focus on the diversity of smart. The world doesn’t only need engineers and scientists. We need creativity and imagination too. That’s what got us many of the products we use today. Thinking OUTSIDE of the SMART BOX.

library volunteer

March 26th, 2012
9:08 am

I would have gladly pushed my son into the higher level AIME (whatever that is), Westinghouse, physics, etc. had there been the opportunity. The point is that the schools do a dismal job at the top end of the curve. 99% across the board in 5th grade ITBS. I have tried to balance talks about intelligence with many discussions about different gifts for different people, and everyone has a responsibility to use what they have been given. It is a subject that I could never have ignored or treated dishonestly, because he would have seen right through me.

Also, how do you ever know what 100% is when you consistently score 100%?

homeschooler

March 26th, 2012
9:19 am

I always tell my children they are smart but for different reasons. With my son it is all about telling him that he is too smart not to try harder. I could have written RJ’s post, above. My son had an amazing math ability very early on. His favorite past time at age 4 was calculating how many hours a dvd was based on the minutes (106 minutes is…. 1hr and 46 minutes). He would also calculate how old a penny was based on the date. He’d do this in seconds in his head. Seriously there were times I thought he was autistic. Fast forward to 4th grade and the kid won’t attempt to memorize multiplication tables. He adds the numbers in his head every time which slows him down. He swears that to add 24 and 36 in his head is “hard”. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing that there is an amazing brain in there and I just can’t reach it. He sees a lady for math tutoring and she says he has a “calculus brain”. What do you do with that? My plan is to put him in a small private school for math and science next year and see if they can somehow help him reach his potential.

His sister, on the other hand, is not nearly as intelligent (I swear I have never let her know that I think that) but she is much more academic. She is determined, a self starter, she pushes her self all the time to do more and to do better. She is an absolute dream to homeschool. I commend her constantly on her drive and determination (something I lack myself). She will often say that she is not smart because her brother “knows” so much about history and science. I tell her she is very, very smart in a different way and point out that she can read and write better than he ever could at her age and I tell them both that the amount of intelligence that you have means nothing. Just like the amount of money you have means nothing. It is what you do with it that counts.

We probably would never be classified as a “religious” family but I always tell my kids that is is wrong to not use what God gave you. My daughter has a beautiful singing voice but is very shy and doesn’t want to sing in choir or chorus. I’m trying to encourage her buy telling her that she needs to use her gifts. I tell my son this about his school work but it doesn’t work. Nothing works. :-) He just takes the easy way out every time. Funny thing is, that’s what I have done my whole life. I could have easily studied and made straight As in high school and college but I always did the minimal and was content with B’s. Isn’t it true that the things that we get so frustrated about with our children are the things that we find fault with in ourselves.

Overall I think telling a child he or she is smart is not a bad thing. I just think we can’t go overboard with the praise. I do think my son has felt a lot of pressure his whole life to perform because family members, friends etc.. have always talked about how smart he is. Or maybe he just sees this as a reason not to try. Maybe a little of both.

homeschooler

March 26th, 2012
9:42 am

@ DB.. I LOVE that “useless as praising someone for their blue eyes”. Think I’ll use that on my son. YOU didn’t do anything to get smart but it’s up to you to use it!!

@ Catlady..I have a friend who’s kids are actually my age and were in gifted programs in FL and then in GA in the 70’s and 80’s. She always talks about the difference and how the FL programs were truly for gifted kids and the gifted programs in Georgia are more for kids who achieve well in class. There is a big difference. I have found that in average schools in Cobb County it seems that the kids from higher socioeconomic classes end up in the gifted programs. Doesn’t make much sense to me if they are truly looking at who is gifted. My son has three friends in public school. All are in the gifted program. What are the odds that 100percent of his public school friends are truly gifted? I think they just show more promise academically which, in my opinion and in my experience with my own two, is very different from being “gifted”.

JOD

March 26th, 2012
9:42 am

@homeschooler – Nicely said.

I don’t think telling a child s/he is smart is the issue (unless you don’t mean it), but rather blowing sunshine up his/her behind and/or not pushing them to succeed/use his/her talents. There’s nothing wrong with praising a child for whatever reason, but sincerely and specifically. It’s also important to help them push through roadblocks. DD comes to me frequently to help her do things that she just tried hard enough to do (e.g. find a specific toy in her hugs toybox). I push her to find it herself even if she gets frustrated at first, then she sees that she can do it. Simple example, but I believe it will translate later on, too.

JOD

March 26th, 2012
9:43 am

Good grief – can’t type today. Should be “do things that she just hasn’t tried hard enough” and “in her huge toybox.” Sorry.

shaggy

March 26th, 2012
9:57 am

Yes, make them memorize the chant, “I am smart. I am not stupid.” Then, when Easter comes along, do this:

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/aggressive-parents-force-egg-1398394.html

Gotta love them: thwap!, thwap!, thwap!, thwap!, thwap!…gimme that egg, that’s JOHNNY’S egg, you put that down. Jim hit that guy again, until he drops the egg,….thwap! thwap!, thwap! thwap!, thwap!

Fred ™

March 26th, 2012
10:08 am

We try to underplay the issue. From the very beginning when she was tested to get into Woodward, we never showed her her scores. She scored (and still scores) high in local and National tests. She doesn’t need to know that. I encourage curiosity and try to instill in her a desire to learn. She loves her puzzle books as well as her Barbies. I encourage her to play with both.

I don’t obsess over her grades. She had a party where one of the girls almost couldn’t come (after accepting the invite) because she got a B on a test. Really? She got a B on a 4th grade test? Why hell, there goes Harvard Med, better get used to saying “Want some fries with that.” Life is over……….. Wow, a B. On one test. Call the firing squad…………..

My daughter is very clever, she knows that. There are other that are more clever. She knows that too. She has been playing (and winning her fair share) Clue with us since she was 7. She’s NOT solving Fermat’s Last Theorem or writing symphonies. She hears from her peers what grades they are getting and knows what she is getting. She can figure out where she stands. We praise her but don’t go overboard.

As to AP classes? Where she goes to school, EVERY class is an AP class………… well except for the “transition’ classes.

K's Mom

March 26th, 2012
10:12 am

I just love reverse snobbery…the Junior League comments are just rude. It may not be for you, but to say it is your version of hell is mean and there are some great, intelligent and very hardworking women who do great work in the Junior League. I have never joined because I traveled for work for so long, but so many friends are involved and I am just offended by the ‘tudes.

On topic, I can tell you from experience with my husband’s daughter that over praising a child will get you a lazy and entitled teenager. She deserves good grades simply because she exists and her mom has picked a private school that will give grades instead of demanding they be earned. I think praising effort and accomplishment are keys to motivating children. Self Esteem and its merits are an overblown myth. Think of the words Self Esteem….put together it means to think highly of one’s self…that is not something to aspire to- kids with high self esteem seem to be pretentious, self righteous and completely unaware of the world around them. What I want my kids to aspire to is self confidence and self motivation. I want my kids to believe they can achieve whatever their God given gifts will allow because they worked hard and used their intelligence as part of that.

I am sure I sound grumpy, but when I hear educated women putting down something that other educated women enjoy and make it seem as if it is beneath them, it puts me in a bad mood.

homeschooler

March 26th, 2012
10:14 am

Shaggy, that was hysterical. Just as bad are the egg hunts where all kids have to stop at a certain number or all kids have to throw their eggs in a pile at the end and each take X-number of eggs. I have an easter egg hunt at my house every year for friends and family. The first year a friend said “okay, do they each get 12 eggs and stop?” uh..no. They get as many as the can find. She was concerned about her 6 yr old not getting as many as her 9 yr old because “he’s faster”. I said “Well, one day she’ll be the 9 yr old at the egg hunt and she’ll be faster than all the 6 yr olds. The child walked away with 8 eggs and her brother had 15. All were perfectly happ. Even mom who admitted she had stressed over the issue for nothing.

jarvis

March 26th, 2012
10:19 am

I didn’t know what a Junior League was so I googled it. As former members it lists a bunch of First Lady’s, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Julie Childs. Looks like some pretty heavy lifters in there.

jarvis

March 26th, 2012
10:21 am

@homeschooler, they do have to test into the gifted programs.

jarvis

March 26th, 2012
10:22 am

Also, you son has THREE friends that go to public school?
You live in a bubble?

AntiBoortz

March 26th, 2012
10:26 am

I don’t believe in reading before kindergarten or even already knowing the letters. That’s what they teach in kindergarten and 1st grade. How bored will your kid be when starting school if he already knows half the material?
I raised 3 valedictorians. The kids must have been smart, but they also worked hard. I think it’s more important that your young child have a good sense of humor and be able to get a wry or ironic joke than be able to read when starting school.
My other piece of advice is to tell your kids what you DO want them to do not what you don’t want them to do. It takes practice to learn that instead of saying, “stop making all that noise” you should say, “why don’t you go get your crayons and a piece of paper and try to draw that tree”. (or whatever).

Maude

March 26th, 2012
10:45 am

As a teacher I am always telling my students they are smart. I also tell them “See what you can do when you try?” I also make a mistake every once in a while and let the students know that I made a mistake. They learn they can be smart when they try and that it is okay to try and make a mistakes because everyone is human and makes mistakes. Over the past 25 years it is amazing what I have seen average or slow kids accomplish! While watching the kids who “know” they are smart fail. It is like the Little Engine kids need to have that “I think I can” attitude.

Grumps

March 26th, 2012
10:46 am

Smart is a talent – an apptitude for learning. Some folks have a talent for, say… football. Would you not tell them?

My daughter understands she is smart. She would have figured that out by herself if I hadn’t told her. She also knows it takes more than talent to succeed. It takes hard work.

Hard work + talent = success.

Deion Sanders, without his huge work ethic, would would still be in the minors, or selling insurance, or something else completely unrelated to the talent he has. But, when you put the talent and the hard work together, you get Neon Deion.

Davona

March 26th, 2012
10:50 am

WHAT A CROCK OF CRAP!!!!! Children (anyone actually) will generally believe AND RESPOND to what they are told. I tell my students from day one that they can do anything. I tell them daily they are brilliant and successful. AND THEY ARE!!! BECUASE they believe it and DO IT!

jarvis

March 26th, 2012
10:51 am

Fred, my kids have almost as many friends from baseball, church, gymnastics, dance, and the neighborhood (my kids don’t go to neighborhood school).

I’d venture to say that my daughter has more than 3 private school friends, and there are surely less of those than there are public school friends.

So if you daughter is meeting no one else….then yes “pal” you’re placing her in a bubble.

Denise

March 26th, 2012
10:53 am

I will say this: I felt like all I was was smart and when I didn’t do well in something I felt like a complete failure. I put enormous amount of pressure on myself to succeed academically and even at work and I hate to make mistakes. I don’t know the source of this stress – how I got to be this way – but it is what it is. Maybe it’s because my grandmother used to walk around handing out copies of my report card. Maybe it’s because my grades are the only things that I got attention for. Maybe it’s because being smart is the only thing that made me different from other people I was friends with growing up until high school. Who knows? But I worked my butt off to make sure I did well and when I couldn’t understand something like mechanical drafting in high school, it was devastating.

So maybe there is something to not focusing on your kids’ intelligence and grades more than anything else. BUT it is no different than focusing solely on their athletic ability. If they think all they are is an athlete and they don’t “make it” they will feel like a failure and never live up to the other things they have going for them. Ask my brother.

FCM

March 26th, 2012
10:54 am

@ Homeschooler According the book The Bell Curve the likelihood of the gifted kids coming from a higher socioeconimic background is quite high. Intelligence is both bred/inherited and learned/nutured. It is more likely that those of a certain socioeconomic background will have the desire and ability to add to their children’s development (by reading them classic literature, taking them to meusums, etc) and will ultimately marry someone who shares those talents.

Assuming that you also live/socialize within that socioeconomic group it is very likely his public school friends would be “gifted”.

My children can tell you about Beyonce or that Beiber is dating Salena. However, I found most of that comes from afterschool programs while I am at work. My children can also converse on Mark Twain, Dickens, Broadway theater, classical music etc.

You see I was raised within a certain background and in my Social Circle I “married beneath” myself. (I was also shunned by some for doing so). After my marriage fell apart I still had every desire to give my kids those enriching experiences, and found ways. However, my very real circumstance of being a single mother forced me to rely on others to care for my children. I learned quickly not every program is the same and not all houses even in the same school share a common core any more. So I learned to prioritize what I want to share with them (Les Miserables and Monet for example) and make sure it happens.

BTW: I think my children end up being better people from knowing both the pop culture and the truly cultured side. I have great hopes they will one day go on to be successful people, well married and beloved, raising other “gifted/smart” children.

jarvis

March 26th, 2012
11:03 am

Here’s the Cobb County gifted evaluation process:
http://www.cobbk12.org/centraloffice/giftedservices/

The only way that a kid can get in without being in the 96th percentile for intelligence is to be assessed at above 90th percentile in all three other areas: achievement, creativty, and motiviation.

RJ

March 26th, 2012
11:06 am

@Grumps, I agree 100%!

JATL

March 26th, 2012
11:15 am

@Shaggy -that article makes my head want to explode! Surely that may be a sign of the apocalypse ;-)

@K’s mom -come on! I never said there weren’t great people in the Junior League or that they didn’t do good work, but I don’t want to be there. Other things I think could be part of my definition of hell, but I’m glad someone else does: Cleaning hospitals, teaching kindergarten, diving for dead bodies, servicing port-o-lets -there’s quite a large list.

Fred ™

March 26th, 2012
11:23 am

Jarvis: Her school provides baseball, dance, and gymnastic. (Actually any and every sport and activity pretty much, even shooting). As I said (but left out a part lol) there are no kids her age in our neighborhood but “yucky boys.”

So I should have her go walk the streets until she finds some kid ANY kid so that YOU don;t thinkl she lives in a bubble? I don’t think so pal. But thanks for your input.

K's Mom

March 26th, 2012
11:29 am

@JATL, it was the original poster’s comment that rubbed me the wrong way. Sorry to be grumpy, but I cannot stand it when someone uses reverse snobbery to put others down and that is the way I took it.

Penguinmom

March 26th, 2012
11:53 am

I read about this study last year in the book ‘Nuture Shock’. As a ‘gifted’ student, I actually can see how the smart label can be detrimental.

This is not a study that says you shouldn’t praise your kids. It is a study that says they should be praised for their Effort, not their Innate ability. Basically, if a child only hears that ‘you are smart’ when he accomplishes something, then he will think he is ‘dumb’ when he gets to something he struggles to accomplish. At that point, there will be the danger of the child thinking, this must be as smart as I get. However, if Effort is praised, there is no limit to that. Effort can always be given even in a situation where you don’t completely understand something or where you are struggling. However, intelligence is viewed by the students as a hard line that you can hit the limit of and not be able to cross.

A correlated study showed that in middle and high school, the students perceived the presence of too much praise from their teachers as an indication that they were not smart. i.e. they think “only dumb kids need extra encouragement” or “she doesn’t think I can do this so she’s being extra nice to me.” Concrete criticism/critiques were viewed as positive, i.e. “the teacher thinks I can do better so she must think I’m smarter than what this work shows”. Note: this is not necessarily reality, just how the students viewed the praised based on the study.

Penguinmom

March 26th, 2012
12:06 pm

@denise – I think that feeling is exactly what this study is about. Feeling like you have to measure up to some unknown standard and when you fall short it is something innately wrong with you. When effort is praised instead, there is room to make another attempt.

Being told you are smart is not motivating. It just is something you are that you had no control over. Being told that hard work will accomplish your goals is motivating and empowers the child to work towards a goal. If someone thinks of themselves as ’smart’ they will either assume they will get the goal just because of how smart they are and not put any work in or will worry that not reaching the goal will ‘prove’ they aren’t smart so will potentially not risk trying and finding out they don’t measure up.

shaggy

March 26th, 2012
12:15 pm

JATL,

“It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”

Signed: LB

Voice of Reason

March 26th, 2012
12:19 pm

You mean telling your precious little snowflakes that their poop doesn’t stink CAN actually be harmful to them? SHOCKER!

This is why we have kids with entitlement issues folks.

No matter how smart you are, or think you are, or think your kids are, there is always someone out there who is smarter, always someone who is better than you are.

So never let your guard down and never stop learning. Knowledge is power.

Denise

March 26th, 2012
12:33 pm

@Penguinmom – Yes, I am the posterchild for the study. That’s why I piped up. It’s easy to say something doesn’t make sense, like this study, until there is something or someone that directly proves it correct. I know I am but one person that will admit it publicly or just in this forum but I am not the only one even within the people I know. Some have outgrown it and I am actively trying to overcome it, even at age 39. See, I am still being told that I am smart. I just understand now that “smart” also includes the work I put in and that the people who call me smart actually are acknowledging the work, not just the intelligence. I never got that before. But like I said, I still battle with being “right” and doing “right” rather than taking the risk and possibly getting it wrong. Perfectionists can be some of the saddest people you will ever come across.

homeschooler

March 26th, 2012
1:02 pm

@ Penguin Mom..your post is really getting me to think of how I treat my own two kids. Since I have never viewed my daughter as having the extreme innate intelligence that her brother has, I have always praised her when she puts effort into something and, almost always, tries until she succeeds. I imagine that my praise of her efforts makes her try harder. Conversely, my son NEVER seems to try to do anything. I wonder if I always just expected he could do it so if he tried, I didn’t really notice. I feel like I am always telling him, you are smart…you can do this but maybe not putting the focus where I should. I am basically never praising him because he never puts effort into anything. I’m really not sure how to change that but you definitely have me thinking.

As far as my kids “living in a bubble”, Jarvis. When I say my son has 3 public school friends I am talking about close friends. Kids he plays with regularly, goes to their homes goes out to eat with etc.. Sure he knows kids in his acting classes or in his martial arts classes or at church who go to public school. He is constantly surrounded by kids from all walks of life but, his close friends are those three, one or two private school kids and a few homeschool kids. We don’t live in a subdivision so my kids do miss out on playing with neighbors. There is a big difference to me in “friends” and “acquaintances”. I venture to say that if my kids spent every day surrounded by 30 kids in their class they would have even fewer actual “friends” than they do now. It is important to me that my kids have true, meaningful relationships with others. Especially in a day and time when a “friend” is any face on your Facebook.

I get it that kids need to “test” for the gifted programs in the county schools but in the schools my son’s friends go to, they are always going to come out in the top 96 percent (or whatever the range is) because many of the other kids are poverty level, free lunch, children of illegal immigrants etc.. I also know that what FCM says is true. But here is my thing..take those same three kids out of the lower achieving schools and place them in some school in East Cobb or Peachtree City and they would not be considered gifted. To me gifted is something you are born with, a different way of thnking that often can not be measured by good grades or even standardized testing. I think that there are a lot of kids who are overlooked because they do not test well but might actually be “gifted”. The kids I’m talking about are being told all through elementary school that they are smarter than all their peers. What happens if they go to school in another area in middle or high school. Or worse, what happens if they graduate at the top of their class, go on to college only to find out they are just average with a not so great education?