Is it better to tell your kids they’re smart or they work hard?

All of us parents want our kids to be successful.  Clearly, we want to be parents who encourage our children to achieve to their highest potential and constantly strive to learn.  So, when the “apple of your eye” comes home with a quality project or a perfect test score, do you tell them they are smart or do you praise them for their hard work and perseverance?

It turns out that one of these options is much more beneficial in the long run. Praising students for being smart causes them to believe that they have innate ability that doesn’t change. When that same child confronts new and difficult challenge they may wonder, “Am I no longer smart?”.

If we praise our children for their effort they will come to believe that every challenge can eventually be overcome through persistent effort, diligence, and perseverance.  This belief is supported by current research in brain development, which has demonstrated that our brain can continue to grow new connections and pathways throughout our life.  Here is an excellent article that summarizes the research.

Going for the Growth

So keep up the great work parents and remind your kids that their sustained effort, focused attention, and willingness to stick with a problem for a long period of time is the most important quality of a learner.


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