Don’t Praise Talent

According to convincing research over decades from Carol Dweck and others, it’s far more educationally effective to praise kids for effort than for intellect.

The entire “gifted” terminology is a trap for kids: it creates a “fixed mindset” in people that convinces them they can only succeed at things they are gifted at. Praising effort will create a “growth mindset” that leads to the subconscious belief that anything is achievable with effort.

Which is why you will never hear me call my students talented. Hard-working, yes. Sings beautifully, sure. Smart musician, committed actor, good ear.

But I will go pretty far out of my way to avoid implying that their success is a result of something innate. (The same goes for my sons: they know they are clever; I try not to praise them for it.)

Praise and reward effort and you will set children up for a lifetime of success.