Candor is a virtue not respected enough. In our desire to be nice, polite or protective, we miss out on the opportunity to be honest, frank and helpful. Nothing is more dangerous to a students’ /child’s well being or ability to improve than creating a fake environment around them. An environment that screams, you are brilliant, you are doing well, you are great at MUN, etc. when they are still learning. Encouragement is one thing but inflated praise, because it sounds good to others and feels nice to yourself is detrimental to the child’s development.
When you have candor, you have conversation. The child wants to know where she went wrong, how can she improve, how could she extend her learning, what should she read to advance her understanding, should she be looking and analyzing exemplars of good work? These questions arise when you have given truthful feedback.
Open the conversation with her with feedback that is positive, encouraging, directional and consistent. As Jack Welch says, introduce stretch goals that continue to motivate the child and can be adjusted over time. He further states that children learn differentiation on the sports field. In football, for example, only 11 players can play from each team. If you are not good enough you sit on the side. Now you either improve your game or look for something else that is more up your sleeve.
Parents try very hard to project the ‘all is well’ and better, with my child vis-e-vie other children, even when all is not well. This creates a fake environment for the child and soon enough this environment starts to feel real. Real to the parent and the child, anyway. Nothing can be worse than that. Be truthful and keep that trust. It is therefore important to phrase our praise correctly. As Carol Dweck states, praise the effort and not the ability.
Who ever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters – Albert Einstein