The Power (and Peril) of Praising Your Kids
What do we make of a boy like Thomas? Thomas (his middle name) is a fifth-grader at the highly competitive P.S. 334, the Anderson School on West 84th. Slim as they get, Thomas recently had his long sandy-blond hair cut short to look like the new James Bond (he took a photo of Daniel Craig to the barber). Unlike Bond, he prefers a uniform of cargo pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of one of his heroes: Frank Zappa. Thomas hangs out with five friends from the Anderson School. They are “the smart kids.” Since Thomas could walk, he has heard constantly that he’s smart. But as Thomas has progressed through school, this self-awareness that he’s smart hasn’t always translated into fearless confidence when attacking his schoolwork. For instance, in the early grades, Thomas wasn’t very good at spelling, so he simply demurred from spelling out loud. Thomas is not alone. When parents praise their children’s intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem.
• III.How to talk to young children
• English in Early Childhood