Bragging backfires

Angela Duckworth is a University of Pennsylvania psychologist, the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, and the CEO of Character Lab, a nonprofit dedicated to character development. Her latest newsletter reminds parents that publicly bragging about your children’s college acceptances, test scores, and other achievements can actually have detrimental effects on your kids.

Does everyone in the universe really need to know where your kid is headed for college this fall? Even if your child is marching through the front door of a highly selective university, there isn’t much to be gained by announcing this news publicly. In fact, there’s a lot to be lost. I say this as a daughter who remembers cringing, literally, when my dad—upon meeting old friends, new acquaintances, or just innocent bystanders at the local hardware store—would somehow work into the conversation an update on one or another of his children’s accomplishments.

Expressing your pride to your kids makes it about them. But openly bragging about your kids makes it about you.