Over three decades of scientific research suggests that repeatedly telling children that they are uniquely intelligent or talented makes them vulnerable to failure and fearful of challenges.
Children raised in this way develop an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed, which makes the effort to learn seem less important than to appear intelligent; challenges, mistakes and efforts become threats to their egos rather than opportunities to improve themselves.
However, teaching children to have a “growth mindset,” which encourages effort rather than intelligence or talent, helps them become high performing students in school and in life. This results in “mastery-oriented” children who tend to think that intelligence is malleable and can be developed through education and hard work.
This can be done by telling stories about the accomplishments that result from hard work. Talking about the geniuses of mathematics who were born this way puts students in a fixed frame of mind, but descriptions of great mathematicians who have developed amazing skills over time create a mindset of growth.