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Some time ago there was an article that went viral on Facebook titled “Please, don’t tell me my son is smart!” and discussed fixed vs growth mindset in children. At first glance the sentence sounds ordinary because it’s natural for someone to ask for help, but try to look at the rest of the sentence, “Don’t tell me my son is smart!”. It seems commonplace when we say “Smart” praise to children especially when they excel. But you know, based on a study of these habits actually have a negative impact on the child.
Fixed vs Growth Mindset
Both terms appeared in a study conducted by Carol Dweck which was later published in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006). In his book, Dweck emphasizes that the effects of compliments such as “Smart Kids” actually make children less likely to want to take risks.
The study was conducted in two groups of children to examine the effects of compliments given. Group I praise is given for their ‘intelligence’ as group II praise is given based on their ‘efforts’, and there are four stages of the same test for each group.
First Test: every child from both group I and group II is given an easy non-verbal puzzle and the average result is that all children from both groups can solve it well.
Second test: in the second test is given two puzzle options, the first puzzle option is level more difficult than the first puzzle and the second puzzle option is as easy as the puzzle in the first test. As a result, most group I children chose an easy puzzle similar to the first test while 90% of children from group II chose a more difficult puzzle
Third test: in this phase three test both group I and group II are not given the choice of puzzles and must solve more difficult puzzles (this type of puzzle for children 2 years older than their age). As a result, all the children failed to complete it.
Fourth Test: in the last stages children from both groups were given puzzles whose difficulty levels were the same as the first test, but the final results were very different. Group I decreased the score by 20% while Group II increased the score by 30%.
The conclusion of the study is. In the first test when all the children managed to solve the puzzle well, group I was praised that they were “smart” in solving it while group II received praise for their “effort” so that the results were satisfactory.
In the second test, when each child from each group was given a choice of puzzles, children from group I tended to choose easier puzzles because for them it was important to maintain the “smart kid” status they received so assumed it was better to choose an easy puzzle because if they chose a difficult one they risked losing their “smart child” status. While group II chose a more difficult puzzle although later the results many failed to finish well.
This opinion was reinforced when the third test was given, the children from group I looked depressed when completing the test and concluded that they were not actually smart while the children from group II actually looked more serious and tried harder because they considered their failure in the second test because of lack of focus.
Then what is Fixed vs Growth Mindset? Group I is an example of a Fixed Mindset where children tend to think of themselves as smart and more concerned with the end result which shows that they are indeed smart but they do not like to face failure because that way they will lose the label “smart boy” that is why they prefer to avoid challenges, while Group II is an example of the form Growth Mindset where children will have the thought that to achieve something they are in control, if they are successful then it is the result of their efforts and when they fail it means that their efforts are less maximal and instead encouraged to try even harder.
As parents of course want the best for their child and stop giving praise “smart child” is not too difficult just this has become an old habit. Try to practice when someone else compliments your child with “smart kid” then you answer “Please, don’t tell me my son is smart!” what kind of response will you receive? Happy parenting!