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The Expert Who Told You To Praise Your Kid Says You Can Stop Now

The last time your kid brought home a bad grade or wound up flat on their back after trying — and completely failing — to kick a soccer ball, did you praise them for “trying their best”? If so, you probably read something about how kids need to have a “growth” mindset so they believe that they can do anything as long as they make an attempt. Well, the psychology professor who championed that thinking says you can stop now.

Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success wrote in a recent essay that today’s parents and teachers have been doling out too many participation ribbons for trying, not enough participation ribbons for actually doing. Dweck writes that “a growth mindset isn’t just about effort,” and the end goal should be learning, not just showing up. Do you really want your kid to turn into Johnny Manziel?

Quartz used that time honored example of sucking at math. Instead of telling your son or daughter it’s ok to suck (and, if you’ve tried to do long division lately, you realize you also suck), you should be saying “you just suck, right now,” and encourage them to get to that point in the future when they don’t suck. But the emphasis has to be on the not sucking.

Dweck isn’t the only one telling you to take off the kid gloves. Teachers have stopped saying please, parents are grounding their helicopters, and more young people are being treated like real people. It all comes back to the idea that your kid’s capabilities are malleable and they can always do better. Which is good news, because you? You’ve peaked.