Is the praise you are giving your child helping or hurting..what you MUST know!

Why praising “hard work” is better than praising inherent “intelligence.”

As parents, we are constantly trying to positively reinforce our children in a way that will make them feel good about themselves and build the confidence they need to succeed.  We are told that we need to encourage our children, tell them they are smart, that they can do whatever they put their minds to.  We are trying to prepare them for a rough world that may not always appreciate them for who they are and what they are worth.    According to an article in BusinessWeek titled “The Trouble with Bright Kids,” your choice in wording may have a bigger impact in how successful your child is than you may think.

This article brings up a point that I feel is extremely relevant today due to the fact that let’s be honest, it’s pretty cut throat out there.  Just because you are good at something, doesn’t mean you will succeed.    This article addresses the issue of the type of praise we give our children and why praising children for hard work may be better than praising them for their inherent intelligence.

The author Heidi Grant Halvorson points out that “Gifted children grow up to be more vulnerable, and less confident, even when they should be the most confident people in the room.”  This doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me as obviously it seems like the opposite should be true.  But understanding why this is the case could help us reverse this wrong and help our children build the confidence and skill set they need to live up to their fullest potential.

In order to get to her conclusion, Halvorson and her peers conducted an experiment on the different kinds of praise given to 5th graders.  This is how it went.

First:  Every student was given a test with some relatively easy problems and was given praise on their performance.  Half of the students were praised for their ability i.e. “Great job, you must be really smart” the second half were praised for their effort i.e. “Great job, you must have worked really hard.”

Second: Each student was given another set of problems, this time they were very difficult.  The problems were so difficult in fact that none of the students got many correct at all.  The students were told that they did a lot worse than before.

Third:  Each student was given a third set of problems.  This set was easy like the first set.  The idea was to see how each student would handle the failure of the previous difficult set of problems.

The results are pretty amazing.  Halvorson and her colleagues found that the students who were praised for their ability or for being smart, did roughly 25% worse on the third set of problems compared to the first set.  The article states that “They were more likely to blame their poor performance on the difficult problems to a lack of ability, and consequently they enjoyed working on the problems less and gave up on them sooner.”

The group of students that were praised for their efforts instead of their ability, did 25% better on their third set compared to their first set of problems.  “They blamed their difficulty on not having tried hard enough, persisted longer on the final set of problems, and enjoyed the experience more.”

All of the students in the experiment had the roughly the same ability level and had a similar history of success in the classroom.  All students did well on the first set of questions and poorly on the second set.  The only difference was in how the students took the failure and difficulty of the second set of problems.  The “smart” kids were much quicker to lose confidence, doubt their ability and perform less effectively.

The big takeaway is this:

“The kind of feedback we get from parents and teachers as young children has a major impact on the implicit beliefs we develop about our abilitiesincluding whether we see them as innate and unchangeable, or as capable of developing through effort and practice. When we do well in school and are told that we are “so smart,” “so clever,” or “such a good student,” this kind of praise implies that traits like smartness, cleverness, and goodness are qualities you either have or you don’t. The net result: when learning something new is truly difficult, smart-praise kids take it as sign that they aren’t “good” and “smart,” rather than as a sign to pay attention and try harder.”

We tend to carry these beliefs about our innate ability, what we naturally can and cannot do, around with unconsciously throughout our lives.  Think about whether there is something you would have liked to do but didn’t because you thought you just wouldn’t be good at it.  Believing that we just don’t have the skills to do something, or that we are stuck being just the way we are, is a trap.  It’s a trap because it’s NOT TRUE!  You’re abilities are not innate, or unchangeable.  Hard work, effort and persistence DO pay off and in fact if you ask anyone at who is wildly successful at something, I’m willing to bet they will attribute their success to exactly those things.

My stepfather always said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get” and I think he had it right.  So start today even as an adult, and throw out any preconceived thoughts about who you think you are or what you think you can and can’t do, and find the confidence to take on the things you never thought you could do.  You can get in A for effort after all.

6 Things you can do when you feel a cold coming on!

It’s flu season, and with the holiday stress, traveling, exhaustion and of course the fact that you can guarantee your kids will bring something home from school, it seems like the cold and the flu are inevitable.  The cold and flu viruses are spread mostly through hand to hand contact.  But just because you are exposed to the virus doesn’t mean you will actually get sick.  Your body is designed to fight off these viruses and can successfully if your immune system is operating in top condition.  It’s when our immune systems are compromised that we actually get sick.  Most times, you can feel that initial onset of something happening in your body.  You wake up sluggish, achy or foggy and just know you are doomed.  Stop right there… try these 6 things and stop a cold or flu in its track!

Get MORE Sleep – This could be the number one cold and flu fighting mechanism.  I know some of you are laughing due to the fact that you haven’t slept since your children were born.  But try!  Recruit a friend, parent, babysitter to watch the kids while you get some extra zzz’s.  Adults need 6-8 hours of high quality sleep. Newborns need up to 18 hours a day, toddlers require 12 to 13 hours, and preschoolers need about 10 hours.  Run a tight ship, be strict on bed times.  If possible make sure kids take naps.  It will pay off!

Take Zinc – When zinc is taken within the first 24 hours of symptoms, is has shown to reduce symptoms by 24 hours and well as lessen the severity of the symptoms.   The New York Times says it will give chicken soup a run for its money.  They reported on a study where people took 50-60 milligrams throughout the day in the form of lozenges and saw significant improvement.

Vitamin D – Vitamin D is a super antimicrobial agent that helps kill all kinds of bacteria, viruses and fungi.  Supplementing Vitamin D can either help you recover faster or help prevent the flu altogether.   You can of course get healthy levels of vitamin D from sun exposure, but I know that is hard for some especially in the winter months.  One study done showed that taking vitamin D3 during the winter may reduce the frequency of the flu, especially in school age children.  According to an article by Dr. Mercola, “the average adult dose required to reach healthy vitamin D levels is 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D per day, if you’re taking an oral supplement. For children, many experts agree they need about 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight.”

Elderberry – This super immune boosting herb has been used for centuries and has countless benefits, especially when it comes to the flu.  Clinical trials show that elderberry can boost immunity as well as reduce symptoms by up to 4 or 5 days!!! That’s huge considering we all know you don’t ‘get a break when you’re sick parent!  Elderberry also helps with congestion and brings on the sweats…which is good when you are fighting something.  There is herbal syrup for adults and kids called Sambucol which you can take as a preventative option or as a treatment when you are sick.

Drink Up – While I know the holiday drinks are flowing, that’s not what I mean.   Stay hydrated, drinking lots of water.  This will ensure your immune system and tissues can all function properly.  Avoid sodas and sugary drinks and opt for herbal teas, specifically green tea.  You know the benefits of green tea are endless but studies show that people who drink between 1-5 cups may prevent the flu.  Elderberry, peppermint, ginger teas are all good options too.

The catch all suggestion –   Echinacea, garlic, and oregano oil are all good immune  boosting, antimicrobial fighting option to take in terms of supplements.  Avoid sugar as this is your immune systems mortal enemy and it’s basically fuel for bacteria and all things bad in your system.  Emotional stress is something that should NOT be overlooked as well.  This will surely run you down making you completely susceptible to getting sick as well as make anything you have worse.   Deep breaths everyone, get some exercise and remember your in-laws will only be in town for a short period of time.


Do you have other tips on how to avoid getting sick?  Leave a comment below.



Are you accidentally using this toxic shampoo on your baby?

As a parent, the last thing you want to do during bath time is rub highly toxic chemicals into your baby’s head.  But chances are if you are using Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Shampoo…that is what you are doing.   Johnson and Johnson, one of the world’s largest health care company is still making products for babies that have 2 potentially cancer causing agents in their products.   Even more disturbing is the fact that J&J makes the same products without these chemicals, but still feels it is necessary to sell the products containing the cancer causing ingredients.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has been trying to get Johnson and Johnson to remove the small amounts of the chemicals, dioxane and quaternium-15 from Johnson’s Baby Shampoo for over two and a half years. USA today reports that:

“According to the report, obtained by The Associated Press, one of the suspect chemicals, quaternium-15, is a preservative that kills bacteria by releasing formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, used as a disinfectant and embalming fluid, was declared a known human carcinogen this past June by the U.S. National Toxicology Program. Formaldehyde also is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant.

The second chemical, 1,4-dioxane, is considered a likely carcinogen. It’s a byproduct of a process for making chemicals more soluble and gentler on the skin.”

Just recently, a campaign called “Baby’s Tub is Still Toxic,” was launched urging people to boycott all Johnson and Johnson products until the company agreed to stop using these chemicals in their baby products.  The campaign also sent a letter to J&J signed by 25 environmental and medical groups, representing 3.5 million people, demanding the chemicals be removed by November 15th.

So what did J&J have to say about that? They said that formaldehyde releasing preservatives are safe and approved by regulators in the U.S. but that they would work on phasing them out.  Really!!?? Do I really want to put any amount formaldehyde, the highly toxic substance used to preserve human remains, on my baby’s head!??  How is this ok? And why is a company that clearly has the ability to make these products safe, not doing it?

Did you know that 70% of what you put on a babies skin can be absorbed into their tiny bodies and that their skin is 30% thinner than adults? This is especially scary considering they are in such a vulnerable state of development.  Harsh chemicals have no place in baby products.  A few tips to make sure you are avoiding anything harmful for you baby:

  1.  Read labels!  If ingredients are natural, they should be fairly recognizable.  If you see a bunch of ingredients that you can’t even pronounce, it’s not a good sign.
  2. Look for baby lotions that don’t have petroleum or mineral oil.  Plant based ingredients like coconut, avocado, jojoba, sunflower are good because they have antioxidants and oils that are good for your baby’s skin.
  3. Avoid anything that list “fragrance” as an ingredient.  This is a sneaky way to hide many chemicals that are potentially very dangerous.
  4. Check this site for baby products approved by the Environmental Working Group.  You can find lots of options here as well as look up common baby products to see how they are rated.
  5. When all else fails, warm water and a wash cloth works just fine!

I wish we could assume that all these companies have our babies’ best interest at heart and that we could trust them to make safe products, but we can’t.  There are too many loopholes in federal regulations allowing companies to put pretty much whatever they want into these products, without testing the safety.  So be picky and choose the products you use on your baby wisely!


Do you have a favorite natural baby product?  Leave a comment below.