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Why should I avoid labeling my child as smart?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

No matter what level of intellect your child has, we recommend that you be careful in how you label him. Kids who are told they are smart often don't take risks because they're afraid to fail. Kids who are celebrated for being willing to try -- regardless of their intellectual ability -- continue growing even if they fail periodically, without taking it personally. We see this in research circles when we look at children who are asked to solve extremely hard puzzles. Some kids get frustrated and quit when they can't figure them out, while others enjoy the process and challenge and ask for another, even if they failed to complete the previous puzzle.

By labeling your child, you actually take away a little bit of his control -- and, really, his destiny too. Another reason that it's as important for parents to praise a swing and a miss ("Good swing! Focus on the ball!") as it is to praise a home run.

YOU: Raising Your Child: The Owner's Manual from First Breath to First Grade

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.