Why you praise children for their hard work….

According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85 percent of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart. In and around the New York area, according to my own (admittedly nonscientific) poll, the number is more like 100 percent. Everyone does it, habitually. The constant praise is meant to be an angel on the shoulder, ensuring that children do not sell their talents short.

But a growing body of research–and a new study from the trenches of the New York public-school system–strongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of “smart” does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.

How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise,” by Po Bronson, New York magazine, February 13, 2007
That’s why you praise your children for their hard work and perseverance – those are qualities they can change and those qualities will be helpful to them no matter what they do in life. How “smart” they are they can’t change. I’m convinced that the praising of children for being “smart” is a reflection not of brighter children, but of insecure parents competing with other insecure parents.
Also see “For once, blame the student,” by Patrick Welsh, USA Today, March 7, 2006:

What many of the American kids I taught did not have was the motivation, self-discipline or work ethic of the foreign-born kids.

Politicians and education bureaucrats can talk all they want about reform, but until the work ethic of U.S. students changes, until they are willing to put in the time and effort to master their subjects, little will change.

A study released in December by University of Pennsylvania researchers Angela Duckworth and Martin Seligman suggests that the reason so many U.S. students are “falling short of their intellectual potential” is not “inadequate teachers, boring textbooks and large class sizes” and the rest of the usual litany cited by the so-called reformers — but “their failure to exercise self-discipline.”

Quotes about hard work

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Genius will not. Education will not. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. Press on.”
— Ray Kroc

“If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.”
— G.K. Chesterton

“Dissatisfaction with oneself is one of the foundation stones of every real talent.”
— Anton Chekov

“Let us be grateful to Adam, our benefactor. He cut us out of the ‘blessing’ of idleness and won for us the ‘curse’ of labor.”
— Mark Twain

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
— Winston Churchill

“I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”
— Benjamin Franklin

“Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.”
— Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)

“The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight.
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.”
— Longfellow, “The Ladder of St. Augustine”

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

“The truth is that many successful people are no more talented than unsuccessful people. The difference between them lies in the old axiom that successful people do those things that unsuccessful people don’t like to do.”
— Harvey Mackay