Being praised for being smart can unwittingly lead bright kids to a downward learning spiral.
So says Mary Loftus in an April 2013 Psychology Today article; Smooth Encounters.
Loftus suggests kids who are told they are bright may not put in as much effort, thinking things should come naturally to them.
This can lead to poor results which can make them doubt their ability.
Praise effort, Loftus suggests. Praising the work leading up to the brilliant report or impressive project is often more helpful for the child seeking reassurance. Praise persistence. Praise performance. Remind the child of obstacles overcome.
This kind of praise leads to intellectual and social success.
When I look at Temple Grandin’s life, I feel ashamed of how little I have accomplished.
Mostly all I’ve done is love someone and raise three children with a whole lot of cooking, washing, ironing and housecleaning in between. I went to university late, earned a degree. Wrote some books. Started a Quilter’s guild. It seems a minimal contribution at best. But then I look at my three children and suddenly my life seems to have some significance.
Not that I take any credit for how wonderfully they turned out. I know I was an inadequate parent. I didn’t know about Asperger’s least of all that I had it, and so did my daughter and possibly my son. Maybe we all did. One daughter and two grandchildren diagnosed. I am so proud of who they are today. Fine people. They have become my friends as well as my children. We mentored each other along the way. I was very young when I had them, you see, just eighteen when I had my first and when she was three, the youngest was born. I was fertile if nothing else.
And because of my autism, my Asperger’s, I was socially very immature. So we grew up together. I helped them where I could. And when they saw me stuck they’d step in and give me a nudge in the right direction. I wasn’t mature for most of my first two marriages. But in the third one I think I finally mastered at least some of the art of maturity. Not that I’m anywhere near finished yet.
My children are independent, organized, kind, and intelligent. I don’t know what more I could ask of them.
But of myself I have to ask this: what have I done to better the world I live in?
Offhand? I don’t know the answer. And that seems a sad thing.