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A few modern philosophers … assert that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism … With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgement, and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.

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Praising children’s intelligence harms their motivation and it harms their performance.

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Haim Ginott, through his lifelong work with children, came to the same conclusion. “Praise should deal, not with the child’s personality attributes, but with his efforts and achievements.”

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But in the example of Elizabeth above, children need honest and constructive feedback. If children are “protected” from it, they won’t learn well. They will experience advice, coaching, and feedback as negative and undermining. Withholding constructive criticism does not help children’s confidence; it harms their future.

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Don’t judge. Teach. It’s a learning process.