Thursday, September 30, 2010

You're Great!

How many times do we look at a child and say, Oh he's so smart? Can we not ever be more detailed or possibly more realistic?
Now I don't mean to come off inconsiderate. Actually, just the opposite. Giving our children or anyone for that matter detailed realistic feedback helps them grow and develop in multiple ways. Saving "over the top" praise for occasional moments makes the praise more valuable and credible. Being specific helps them know what part they did well because sometimes they don't know what they did that was impressive and therefore have difficulty repeating it.
The reason it is just wrong to tell our kids (or direct reports) how amazing (e.g., smart) they are is because smart is not something we are or are not. Our brain is like a muscle that improves with exercise. The more we practice and use our brain, the better it performs. If we can teach that, than they understand that they can play a major role in how intelligent they become.
The catch 22 to our intended compliment is that individuals who are often told how smart, wonderful, high potential they are do not attempt to try anything that they will not be instantly good at. They are afraid to prove your statement wrong. On the contrary, those who are encouraged to work on activities even when they are not mastering them are not afraid to take on new challenges. If you encourage hard work, they will feel like they can most certainly accomplish what you are expecting of them. It is fear of disappointing others that stops people from leaving their comfort zone.

**Refer to Nurture Shock for more information.

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