Don’t most of us want to know that? The answer is, fortunately, easier than we thought. Apart from good genes, we can make our children smarter by using the appropriate praises.
Research has shown that those who believed that ability is fixed, doesn’t feel that they need to put in effort to score in a test, they believe they will get good scores just because they are born smart. Even when they have gotten answers wrong, they won’t bother to find out what went wrong or how to fix it because that will show their disability in being smart.
Whereas those who believed that ability can be improved, will always want to know what the right answer is and how to get the right answer, so that they can become better. Therefore, they will always put in the effort to learn more and remember more. That’s not all, students who believe they can become smarter, are also more persistent in times of failure because, if you believe you can become better, you will naturally not be beaten by a one-off failure and look forward to correcting your failure.
What we can do as parents to instil the correct mindset towards ability/intelligence, will be to always emphasize on the effort, so your child will develop the mindset that it is effort that did the magic, or that it’s the lack of effort, that made one fail.
Praises that you should use will be like “Good effort!”, “Good persistence!”, “Good patience!” etc.
Never, NEVER, say, “So clever!”, “Smart boy!” etc. without injecting elements of ‘effort’ into the praise. The moment your child feels that he is born with it or he is naturally good, he should not need to put in the effort to improve, and he might never want to try again at the first instance of failure because he might have somehow “lost” the ability to be good.
For example, say “Good use of colours! I like your effort in making the picture so colourful.” Instead of “What a beautiful picture! You can draw really well.”
The difference between the 2 types of praises is that one tells specifically what is good, so the next time the child wants to create another picture, he will put in the effort to use more colours. In a way, you are not just encouraging your child to work hard, you are telling your child what exactly he is doing that is right.
In conclusion, in order to ensure your child becomes smarter, be sure to use the right words when praising. Praise the effort, the determination, the decision-making, the choice of level of difficulty, the improvement, the attitude and so on. Your child will thus want to learn more, know more, become more persistent in the face of failure and therefore, become smarter.
Image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net