Helping children who think they are stupid

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Helping children who think they are stupid

What if your child says, “I’m stupid.” Or, “I’m no good at math.” The natural thing – and the wrong thing – that most parents do is to say, “Oh, no. You’re really smart. You’re really good at math. Look you got an A on this test, or you got into this school…” What’s wrong with that? It keeps the child in the same system, the fixed mindset system, where you’re smart or you’re dumb. And even if you talk your child into it on that occasion, the next time he or she makes a mistake or messes up… No. Get them out of that system entirely into the growth mindset system where it’s not about being smart or dumb. It’s about becoming smarter over time through your efforts. So if your child says, “I’m dumb.” You say, “Well, there are things you don’t know. What would we like to learn? What would you like to learn to become smarter?” Teach them how the brain becomes smarter with learning, get them out of that whole idea of labeling in the moment and into the idea of growth overtime.

See Carol Dweck, PhD's video on Helping children who think they are stupid...


Expert Bio

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Carol Dweck, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Carol S. Dweck, PhD, is a leading researcher in the field of motivation and is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford. Her research focuses on why students succeed and how to foster their success. More specifically, her work has demonstrated the role of mindsets in success and has shown how praise for intelligence can undermine students’ motivation and learning.

She has also held professorships at and Columbia and Harvard Universities, has lectured to education, business, and sports groups all over the world, and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and to the National Academy of Sciences. She recently won the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, the highest award in Psychology. 

Her work has been prominently featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Newsweek, Time, The New York Times, and The London Times, with recent feature stories on her work in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Washington Post, and she has appeared on such shows as Today, Good Morning America, NPR’s Morning Edition, and 20/20. Her bestselling book Mindset (published by Random House) has been widely acclaimed and has been translated into 20 languages.

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