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  1. rosemond cates says:

    Great post! I am trying to be a mistake-making grower, but I am absolutely a safe on the sidelines kind of girl by nature! Thanks for sharing this at Big Hair and Books!

    1. Rosemond, I’m glad you enjoyed this post! I’ve been using this phrase with Abby more and more – it’s definitely a process of re-training myself. But I can definitely tell a difference with her. She’s starting to take pride in things that are hard work for her brain!

  2. Loved your article! Thank you for writing that.

  3. Love the article! You must have worked hard on it. :-) The number of ads on your blog is distracting though.

  4. wow is THIS ever ‘right on’!!! I was a straight A student, well behaved kid, and I was always told how “smart” or “good” I was. (or how I was “too smart NOT to do this or that” THAT’s a bad one too :( ) Anyway, yesterday I ended up breaking down to my mom about how I felt that I was always pressured to be “good enough” and when I DIDN’T measure up to that said “ideal” I felt completely WORTHLESS. This is a good post. It applies to ALL of life eve, not just schooling! :)

  5. Nicole Schwarz, LMFT says:

    Saying “you’re smart” is such a hard habit to break. I notice that my kids’ grandparents use this phrase all the time with my kids, and it makes me cringe. I’ll pass along this suggestion! Thank you for giving us a simple alternative.

  6. I have always told my children that while they are naturally smart, I am most proud of them for their hard work. (and their loving hearts, kindness, etc)

  7. Love this. Thank you. “Good job” is I think along the same vein and a phrase I think needs to pretty much be eliminated from our vocabulary as well. I have a 2.5 year old and appreciate articles that challenge us to communicate more effectively with her. I love your blog, and to be honest with you, I find most “mommy blogs” incredibly annoying. But I find yours refreshingly un-annoying. ;) So, good job! (…get it?)

  8. Some things need to be as perfect as possible, some do not. Blessed is the person who can tell the difference.–Ron Cade

  9. Great article. Please help me with tits though. My second grade daughter is dyslexic and hates school. What do you say hen she constantly says, I’m so dumb. Everyone reads better than me. I’m so dumb at math. I’m in the lowest group……i have been counteracting her saying she’s dumb all the time with telling her she’s smart……please advise

    1. Erika Cedillo says:

      Hi Nicole, I don’t know where you are now at in your journey, I see your post is over a year old. But still I wanted to share that I have a daughter with lots of challenges and one suggestion we received from psychologist was to help her to realize her path is different, but everyone learns differently and that she is learning and doing it at her pace. We recognize her effort and we tell her how proud we are of the effort she does at doing her work at school because we know it is hard for her. I don’t know what the results will be but I feel she’s feeling a bit more confident and relaxed. One phrase we use is practice, practice makes us better and she has seen the outcome with some things like the monkey bars, with constant practice she became really good at that and we try to bring that example to other things that are hard for her. I hope things are going well for you and your daughter. Erika

    2. Hi Nicole,
      I got a really amazing tip from an ADHD and learning difficulty expert, which was to focus on things that the child IS “good at” / loves doing and exels at. Let them do more of that, which will make them feel competent and from this mindset they become “braver” to try other things.
      Hope that helps!

  10. Similar to “The Nurtured Heart Approach” to parenting…which is all about being specific in regards to praise, and finding the greatness in every child. Thank you for writing and sharing this!

  11. That’s a very interesting approach… I’ve been told I’m smart and I grow up being lazy (I have to admit, honestly).
    I hope to raise my kids eager enough to respect the hard work.

  12. Erika Cedillo says:

    Great post and thank you for the printable! We’ve been working on the growth mindset and I think this is a great exercise to do with my girls. :)

  13. I love your one-stop phrases, Kelly. My daughter is a violinist. She is getting very good but really struggles with making mistakes. She would rather move on in a huff than spend the 2 minutes and 10 repetitions it would take to fix them. I’ll be printing this coloring page for her and stapling it to her violin. Just kidding about the stapling. But she will be getting this. :) Thanks!

  14. Wow, Kelly. This is pure gold. Thank you so much for what you are doing with this blog. Not many other things that are as important as helping countless moms/dads with these very tricky but lasting aspects of parenting. I thank God for ‘your efforts’ ?? and pray He will bless you for it!

  15. Hi Kelly, I’m wondering if there is an equivalent for building kindness in our children. My three year old is not showing a lot of kindness at the moment. I’ve been been saying “you’re kind” or “our family is kind” but it isn’t having much effect. When she shows kindness, I can say “you cared about that person”, but I don’t know what is helpful to say when she chooses not to be kind – what the equivalent of the high five and “you’re learning” in this article is. Any ideas?

  16. Penny Longhorn says:

    This is not a place for me to post photos. But, my Jaw dropped. You would see why too. My grandson, Is the spitting image of the little guy in the photo, right down to the dejected head posture and the forehead grabbing.
    Two out of my three grandsons have precisely the outlook described in this article.
    Thank you, thank you for your insightful observations, and excellent coping strategy.
    I can’t wait to try it out this tactic today after school during homework time. .

  17. What would you say to a 5th grader that has a C in Math (his best subject)? I made the mistake of saying “you are smart. you can do better”. That didn’t do anything and he still has a C in Math. He just doesn’t pay attention and doesn’t show his work.