There’s no such thing as a gifted child — Albert Einstein had many failures when starting his work and most Nobel laureates weren’t exceptionally smart as children. If you want to raise a “gifted child”, telling your kids that they’re smart could lead to burnout and could even drive them to fear failure. Instead, encourage them to accomplish more just by changing the way you praise your kids.
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Praise Their Hard Work
Psychologist Carol Dweck found that there are two different mindsets when it comes to motivation: Fixed and growth. Someone with a fixed mindset thinks that intelligence and creativity are something they are born with and that there is ultimately a limit on potential. People with growth mindsets, meaning they believe that potential is something to be worked and improved upon, are more likely to take on challenges and achieve more long-term.
Instead of calling your kids smart, recognise your children’s hard work and effort. This will encourage your kids to work hard and helps kids develop a growth mindset.
Be OK With Them Making Mistakes
Similar to the growth mindset, allowing your kids to make mistakes will encourage them to challenge themselves and learn more. Research has shown that children can face challenges better if they know that they just need to keep trying. Allowing kids to make mistakes will also encourage them to learn from them, rather than making your kids self-critical of their talents.
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Be sincere and honest when you praise your children. Recognising good work is important, but sometimes it could make your kids start seeking out praise instead of enjoying the activity you’re praising them for. One study found that frequently praising eight and nine-year-olds for being generous led them to act less generous on a day-to-day basis.
Encourage Their Passions
Rather than complimenting your children for doing a particular thing (“You’re so smart because you aced this test”), encourage their passions and allow them to explore different subjects (“I’m excited that you like maths so much”). Research has shown that kids with parents who are more involved in their child’s learning do better in school. That doesn’t mean you should be a helicopter parent, but doing small things such as taking them to the library or letting them join their school soccer team can help.
Encouraging them to explore different passions can also help your kids not centre their identities around one thing. For example, when you label a kid as a “maths person”, that discourages them from trying new subjects that they might not be as good at initially such as art or sports. Instead, tell them that they can learn anything if they try hard enough.