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Calling Your Daughter Smart

Did you know that calling your daughter “smart” may actually cause her to lose motivation?

Help your daughter understand that “smart” means “someone who keeps learning because she tries her best.” Research shows that children (especially girls) often internalize the well-intended message of “you’re so smart” to mean that this ability is something with which they were born and therefore is outside of their control. So, in the face of true challenge, girls are likely to choose not to try their best out of fear that adults around them will find out that they are not as “smart” as they thought—“it’s better to fail because I didn’t try than to fail when I tried my best.” So, praise your child’s efforts and help her to see the link between her efforts, her ongoing learning, and her successes!

By Dr. Marion Swanson

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