Jeff Bezos has advised parents to “preach” this “super important” habit to their kids over and over. As a father of four, the founder of Amazon says it’s advice he’s tried to give his own children.
As if being a billionaire isn’t reason enough to take advice from Bezos, his tips actually align almost exactly with the research of Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University.
Dweck has conducted some highly compelling studies on teaching children how to adopt a “growth mindset,” as opposed to a “fixed mindset.”
Bezos has emphasized this time and time again. This is what he had to say at an awards show in Seattle in 2016:
Take pride in your choices, not your gifts. … This is something that’s super-important for young people to understand, and for parents to preach to young people. It’s really easy for a talented young person to take pride in their gifts: “I’m really athletic,” or “I’m really smart,” or “I’m really good at math.”
That’s fine. You should celebrate your gifts. You should be happy. But you can’t be proud of them … What you can be proud of is your choices.
How did you decide to use your gifts? Did you study hard? Did you work hard? Did you practice? The people who excel combine gifts and hard work, and the hard work part is a choice. You get to decide that. And that is something that when you’re looking back on your life, you will be very proud of.
Dweck couldn’t agree more. When praising your children’s accomplishments, try to stress their hard work as opposed to their innate talents. For example, instead of saying “Another A+! You’re so smart!” try saying “I’m so proud of all your hard work. Great job on the A+!”
Dweck’s research shows that praising children’s gifts instead of their effort can lead to less effort. This is because children will develop a fear of failing that encourages a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset.
The good news is that it’s never too late to start encouraging your children’s effort instead of gifts. And it’s also never too late for yourself to develop a growth mindset!