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Raising 'Smart' Kids
Raising 'Smart' Kids

When I was in school, I saw students who had amazing GPAs in high school - much better than mine - but fell by the wayside in college, while I was on the Dean's List. Want to know why? I worked for it, and they didn't. I studied and persisted seven days a week to get the grades that I got. It wasn't brains that made the difference, it was effort.
Fast-forward a few years to when I was a professor at USC. During the exams, I would walk around the room and see what the students were writing. If I saw that something was wrong, I would direct their attention back to the question, and tell them to read it again very carefully. So then they'd go back and rework the question and inevitably, they would get the right answer after they thought about it. All I did was give them a boost that things were possible with more focus. If you have a negative mindset towards your outcome, you won't get anywhere.

It's my best guess that parents compliment their kids with the wrong message. I can't tell you how many calls I get from parents who start the conversation off with, "I have three beautiful children." Who cares that your kids are pretty? I'm more interested in their character. Are they going to be decent citizens? Are they compassionate? Will they be good people? Stop telling kids they're brilliant because then what's their motivation for cultivating their talent? Put more emphasis on the effort it takes to complete a task, focus on what they learned, and be impressed with the strategy they used rather than the results. 

Another great way to create an open learning environment is to encourage everyone in the family to share their mistakes. At the dinner table, have each person talk about a mistake they made that day. Your kids will not only see that mistakes aren't the worst thing in the world, but that we can fix them, or at the very least, learn from them. The most persistent students don't spend time ruminating over their failures; they simply learn from their mistakes and move on.
Keep these words from Thomas Edison in mind: "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."

Tags: Attitude, Behavior, Character-Courage-Conscience, Education, Parenting, Personal Responsibility, Social Issues, Stay-at-Home Mom
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