Is it Right or Wrong to Call Your Children Smart or Pretty?

Is it Right or Wrong to Call Your Children Smart or Pretty?

At the school Kindergarten meeting, the principal brought up an interesting point.  He advised the parents not to call their kids smart.  He claimed students won’t work as hard if they are always told they are smart. Reminding impressional young minds that they are intelligent can either a) boost confidence or b) create an overconfident, lazy child that doesn’t try as hard.

My daughter’s grandparents, among others, often tell her how pretty she is.  I wonder if repeating to a child their entire life that they are beautiful can either a) boost confidence or b) create the message that looks are more important than brains.

I don’t know the right answer on this one.  I do believe it is necessary to occassionally compliment children.  We hope our offspring grow up thinking they are smart, pretty, funny, creative and honest.  I would hate to hold back praising my little ones for them to feel insecure later.

What would you do?


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    It is nice to be pretty but our jobs as parents is to point out that pretty doesn't mean anything without integrity.
    As far as the school principals comment: Disagree! I tell my son he's smart because he is. All his teachers have told him this. So would a teacher be reprimanded at this school for telling a student he or she is smart?

  • Calling a kid smart boosts confidence, calling them pretty boosts their vanity. Some kids aren't aware of how intelligent they are until adults tell them.

  • Funny. I was reading a cover article from Time Magazine on Tiger Moms. The article specifically talked about this subject. It says that telling your child that they "must have worked hard" on an assignment is better than saying, you're so smart because it shows them the importance of hard work i/e hard work pays off.

    Regarding beauty, there are countless women out here who were lauded with being beautiful all of their life. However, we all know beauty fades with time, but ugly is to the bone.

    Good post .

  • I believe in lots of positive reinenforcement. I have no issues with compliments that are valid and truthful. I think the nice adjectives should be used, but perhaps in reference to an action, act or thing. "That was a smart idea - I think we should pack the sunblock with insect repellent." " I think you look pretty in that outfit." But it is also important to call kids out on things that are not cool.

    We all know it is wrong to call a child 'stupid, dont be an idiot, your hair is ugly like that... / Instead as parents we say things like, "I really dont like how your face looks when you pick your nose. It is not pretty to pick your nose, use a tissue that is much better manners. I dont think those yellow striped socks look as good as the white socks with your pink spotted dress. Balancing your cup on the ketchup bottle is not going to work - right - how could you make it more stable, so it doesn't fall." I am sure you get my point. I just assume parents know this stuff.

    But children, like us adults deserve compliments about what we do, how we look and how we act. I recently read 5 Languages of Love (by Gary Chapman). It helped me to better understand how love comes in constant positive words and actions. We all respond a little different, but it confirms that words do package love and validation.

    I am for it. My daught er is smart and she is pretty- I let her know every day through the kind things she does and accomplishes.

  • Wouldn't you rather have your kids think they were smart and pretty then bad and ugly? I have met more then one student that thinks of themselves as the bad student or the dumb student. If it is true that how we feel about ourselves is projected to the outer world, then I would rather make someone feel smart or good about themselves then not. I have never heard of a compliment ruining a kid or an adult.

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