Young kids who are told they’re smart and who believe it, are more likely to cheat in school than other kids.
As it turns out, praise is much more complex than it seems. When praising a child for being smart, it’s implied that intelligence is unchanging.
Intelligence fluctuates and the greatest increase is seen in the teen years when the brain is undergoing significant renovation.
When kids feel the pressure to perform well in order to meet the expectations of others, they’ll violate their values and cheat. When they cheat, they create anxiety and a sense of false success and this can become a slippery slope.
It’s best to comment on a specific task such as “You did very well on this test” versus making blanket statements about a child’s intelligence. In this way, praise is positive and acknowledges their success without creating expectations.
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