He is So Smart!

My son’s piano teacher once praised him when I picked him up from class.

“He is so smart,” she said.

I replied, “Yes, he picks up piano rather quickly because he has a keen interest and he takes the effort to practice.”

Then she said, “No, he is so smart he doesn’t even need to try very hard!”

I actually dislike people praising my children saying that they are “so clever” and “so smart.”

You must think me nuts. Why?

Because they didn’t do anything to deserve such praise. Why should being smart be praise worthy? Having “smarts” is not something they can do much about. Getting praise too often about their “smarts” makes them think that they are born that way and they are gifted. They will soon start to think that they need not try very hard and, worst, they behave in ways to avoid failure. For example, they will choose easy tasks and avoid challenging ones. Some will even cheat just so that stay ahead.

Why? Because if they fail, they will no longer be praised as “clever” or “smart” anymore. Because if they were “smart,” they shouldn’t need to try so hard. Protecting the “smart” label becomes paramount.

In other words, they begin to handicap themselves in more ways in their lives than school. Is this what we want to condition them to do?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe we are all uniquely talented in specific ways. I believe that is so that we serve a unique purpose and mission in our lives. But without proper nurturing of such talent and coupling it with effort, such giftedness will amount to nothing.

So, on the other hand, I’d much rather praise be directed at a child’s efforts.
I’d much prefer a “well done,” “good job,” “you must have practiced hard,” “you did well because you put in effort.”

This way, they will try harder, try a different way, get feedback, improve and get better results. They can have much more control over the kind of effort they want to put into something rather than the “cleverness” that they supposedly possess.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Kung Hei Fat Choi
Hope you are having a great Chinese New Year holiday!

Other than a time of celebration and family reunion (and lots of food and snacks too!), one thing you’d notice is that Chinese will shower words of blessing upon one another.

Kung Hei Fat Choi is something you’d hear and say frequently and to many people, this blessing is about getting wealthy and prosperous 發財. Very often, this is associated with material wealth.

There is perhaps another way to look at it. The character 財 is actually made up of two characters:

貝: Which means valuable, treasured.
才: Which means talent, gift.

Put together, it literally means treasured talent.

So, allow us to wish that you and everyone at home (especially the children) discover and develop your talents and gifts such that these talents and gifts become a treasure and blessing to you all the days of your lives!

The Price of Marketing

What incredible “puffery”! This is such a huge packaging considering the fact that it contains only 8 small packages of Maltesers.

Yes, Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Yes, we are excited to celebrate this time of the year!

But let us not dim our children’s future by encouraging waste and improper use of precious resources.


Between “Good” and “Bad”

There is a difference between “Good girl” and “Good work.”

Stay 10 minutes in a kindergarten or primary school classroom, I would hazard a guess that we will hear “Good boy” or “Good girl” far more often than “Good work” or “Good job.”

When a teacher says “Good girl” to a child who did something that the teacher wanted, it is a statement that judges the child as a person.

On the other hand, when a teacher says, “Good work” to the child, the teacher is judging the behaviour.

The thing is: Behaviours can be learned, changed and improved upon. But when we judge the being of our children, they will very quickly learn that their worth as a person is dependent what they do and what other people thinks.