This is rather a late post about my conversation with my daughter during their Recognition Rite. I am, as ever, most proud to be her mom. She has landed the highest mark for her class. But the sweetest reward was realizing she is developing her “growth mind-set” or grit well.

On our way home, she told me her classmates were teasing her and asking if they can have an exchange of brains.

She: Ma, they told me, hawd kuno ko kayo, bailo na lang kuno mi ug utok!

(Ma they told me, I was excellent, we should exchange brains!)

Me: And what did you say? {Smirking on her}

She: Haya-haya man mo, mag bailo ta ug utok.

(How lucky of you for us to exchange brains.)

Me: Nganong naingon man ka nga “haya-haya sila”

(Why did you say they are lucky?)

She: Kay naningkamot baya ko para sa grado nako unja sila, magpabailo ra ug utok.

(Because, I worked hard for my grades; and they will just have an exchange of brains.)

A squad of cheerleaders went dancing in my head, along with their plump pompoms! The kid knows she worked for what she has received. She acknowledges effort was a big part of it. And I am happier that she saw the effort behind the natural inclination people saw. She is developing her growth mind-set!

I won’t deny she has an admirable kind of smart. But I have always tried to show her that she is only half as smart without her working towards learning. And that moment was a testament that she had nailed it too. So our conversation went on…

Me: Do you think they’ll get the reward you got if they get your brain?

She: Haya-haya jud uy! Mahibaw-an na nila ang naibaw-an nako basing wa sila ga-tuon ug ayo.

(How very lucky of them! They will know what I already know even if they did not study well.)

Me: Will you not be able to get the same reward if they get your brain?

She: {looked at me intensely} I can still study hard and relearn it.

Me: You have good skills in studying. Do they?

She: Di man jud sila kabalo maningkamot ug ayo. Ako, kay kabalo man ko. Lupig pa nako sila gihapon.

(They don’t really know how to strive hard. I know how to. I can still beat them.)

Me: {Laughed at her expression of delight} It is not the brain that gets the grades. It’s the output you give to your teachers. So, I will agree that you still have an edge. But they can learn your skills too.

She: I can get better at it.

Whoa! Talk about developing her growth mind-set. Honestly, her confidence is sometime scary, but it’s good to know she knows her strengths. I can manage putting her on the ground.

Truth be told out loud, our society worships talent assuming that if we possess superior intelligence or ability and the confidence in that ability; we have the perfect recipe for success. But scientific studies and investigation suggest that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.

Many children are made to hold on to an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed. It tells our children that striving to learn is far less important than being smart. More often, our children end up seeing challenges, mistakes and even the need to exert effort as threats to their ego rather than as opportunities to improve. It causes them to lose confidence and motivation when the work is no longer easy for them.

This is where teaching our children to have a “growth mind-set” or grit which encourages a focus on “process” rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them into high achievers in school and in life. Process consists of personal effort and effective strategies which our children do.

Let us encourage our children to hold their hard work with high regard. Let us teach them that the more they work and persevere at something, the better they will become at it. Let us teach our children to understand that even geniuses have to work hard for their great accomplishments. With those, we are preparing our children for setbacks and will have them work harder or try a different strategy for mastering life. Let’s help them in developing a growth mind-set.