Help kids develop long-term traits

I’ve often reminded parents here to praise effort, not outcomes. I like the message that the grade your student gets on the geometry final is less important than how hard the kid worked in pursuit of success. Once a student gets in the habit of fearlessly taking on challenges and working hard in pursuit of their goals, the outcomes will naturally follow.

But the bigger message here is to praise traits that have staying power. An “A” on the geometry midterm isn’t going to carry much weight in the real world after college. But a willingness to exert effort in pursuit of a personally meaningful goal—that’s a trait that will pay back dividends forever.

A few other traits that carry over during and after college:

Enthusiasm
Curiosity
Resilience
Emotional intelligence
Passion
Character

For many families, the pressure around the college admissions process reduces success or failure to measures like grades, test scores, and admissions decisions. And I don’t deny that those measures have significance in high school for college-bound kids.

But at some point, high school will be left behind. And those kids who’ve developed long-term traits will be well-prepared for what comes next.