‘I will do my very best!’

Children who think poorly of themselves often underachieve in school. A new Dutch study tested whether a simple mental activity — having children with low self-confidence say favorable, encouraging words to themselves — could boost their achievement. The study found that children who engaged in this kind of self-talk improved their math performance when the talk focused on effort, not ability.

The study was done by researchers at Utrecht University, the University of Applied Sciences Leiden, the University of Amsterdam, and the University of Southampton. It appears in Child Development, a journal of the Society for Research in Child Development.

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