Utne Blogs > Science and Technology

Your Kids Aren’t Smart

by Staff


Tags: Smart Children, Millennials, Over-praised children,

Tell your children they’re hard-working. Tell them they’re diligent or tenacious, but for their sake don’t tell them they’re smart. Telling kids that they’re “smart” early in life can lead to frustration, depression, and poor academic performance, according to Carol S. Dweck writing for the Scientific American. Children praised as smart tend to give up when inevitable frustrations arise, because they think of frustrations as shortcomings, rather than as obstacles to be over come. Tell a child he or she is “hard working” however, and they’ll take frustrations as a chance to exercise their brains.

The explanation might be simple, but it points to a trend among young people today. Writing in the November/December issue of Utne Reader, Julie Hanus tackled the good and the bad surrounding the current, over-praised generation. The “Millenials,” as they've been dubbed, have the reputation of being self-centered because of all of the praise they received early in life. Businesses are even hiring “praise consultants and celebrations assistants,” according to Hanus, to try and placate these kids into working hard.

It reminds me of something my grandfather used to say. It’s been attributed to a few people, but I think it’s a good quote.

“It’s better to be lucky than smart, but it seems like the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

Bennett Gordon