DAILY MUSE | I recently heard a Faith Middleton Show discussing an article in New York Magazine entitled “How Not to Raise Your Kids”. It’s intriguing and a bit disconcerting for those either raised by parent’s who praised them or who are currently raising children whom you praise. I’m not so sure that I buy the full premise of the article– that apparently praising your children is not such a good thing for them. Personally, I think a proper balance between praise and discipline would be most effective… Then again, I’m not a scientist. Nor a parent. But I was a kid. And I’m a active godparent, dedicated to my goddaughter’s spiritual, creative and emotional development. In that respect, consider the article and take a look for yourself…and then let’s discuss.
What do we make of a boy like Thomas?
Thomas (his middle name) is a fifth-grader at the highly competitive P.S. 334, the Anderson School on West 84th. Slim as they get, Thomas recently had his long sandy-blond hair cut short to look like the new James Bond (he took a photo of Daniel Craig to the barber). Unlike Bond, he prefers a uniform of cargo pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with a photo of one of his heroes: Frank Zappa. Thomas hangs out with five friends from the Anderson School. They are “the smart kids.” Thomas’s one of them, and he likes belonging.
Since Thomas could walk, he has heard constantly that he’s smart. Not just from his parents but from any adult who has come in contact with this precocious child. When he applied to Anderson for kindergarten, his intelligence was statistically confirmed. The school is reserved for the top one percent of all applicants, and an IQ test is required. Thomas didn’t just score in the top one percent. He scored in the top one percent of the top one percent.
But as Thomas has progressed through school, this self-awareness that he’s smart hasn’t always translated into fearless confidence when attacking his schoolwork. In fact, Thomas’s father noticed just the opposite. “Thomas didn’t want to try things he wouldn’t be successful at,” his father says. “Some things came very quickly to him, but when they didn’t, he gave up almost immediately, concluding, ‘I’m not good at this.’ ” With no more than a glance, Thomas was dividing the world into two—things he was naturally good at and things he wasn’t.
I will post an audio link to the Faith Middleton Show as soon as I find it.
UPDATE | I just made the connection that the article was written by Po Bronson, who wrote What Should I Do With My Life a great book for people searching for a change in their life. It was pretty big a few years back. Even made it to Oprah.
(Photo: Phillip Toledano; styling by Marie Blomquist for I Group; prop styling by Anne Koch; hair by Kristan Serafino for L’Oreal Professionnel; makeup by Viktorija Bowers for City Artists; clothing by Petit Bateau [shirt and pants])