Parents Affect Their Children’s View of Intelligence

Posted on July 1, 2016

Over the years, I have written several blog entries about the work of Carol Dweck and her colleagues on mindsets. One of the most important elements of this work is that when students think that intelligence is fixed, they have a harder time dealing with failure than when they think intelligence can be improved with hard work. This work suggests that helping students to think of intelligence as a capacity that can be enhanced makes them better able to overcome challenges they face when confronting difficult topics in school.

A central question that comes out of this work is where children’s beliefs about intelligence come from. Eventually, of course, children can be taught about intelligence in school. But children’s beliefs about intelligence are shaped even before they start learning about it explicitly.

An interesting paper by Kyla Haimovitz and Carol Dweck in the June, 2016 issue of Psychological Science suggests that parents have some influence on the way their children think about intelligence. However, this influence does not come from parent’s beliefs about intelligence, it comes from their beliefs about failure.

Haimovitz and Dweck point out that some parents think that failure is a terrible thing and that it can be devastating for children. These parents want to protect their children from failure. Other parents think failure is an important part of learning. These parents want to help their children to recover from failure by helping them to learn from it.

In one study, parents of fourth and fifth grade children were asked about their mindset about intelligence (fixed vs. malleable) and their orientation toward failure (debilitating vs. valuable). Their children were asked about their mindset about intelligence. Children’s mindset about intelligence was much better predicted by their parents’ beliefs about failure than their beliefs about intelligence.

To read the full article, click the link below.

Category(s):Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Parenting

Source material from Psychology Today

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