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Health

How to Do School When Motivation Has Gone Missing

Should adults be cheerleaders for our teenagers? Opinion is split. Some researchers contend that praise helps to cultivate intrinsic motivation, while others say that it undermines it by introducing an extrinsic reward. There is, however, an area of consensus: the utility of praise depends on how it’s done. Specifically, praise fosters intrinsic motivation when it’s sincere, celebrates effort rather than talent (“you worked really hard,” vs. “you’re so smart”) and communicates encouragement, not pressure (“you’re doing really well,” vs. “you’re doing really well, as I hoped you would”).This is such a hard year. So long as we do it right, there’s no reason for adults to be stingy with praise.Finally, intrinsic motivation is all but impossible to muster for material that feels out of reac...

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Health

The 2020 Back-to-School List for Teens’ Emotional Well-Being

In a sea of Covid-19 confusion, this seems certain: The pandemic will disrupt school this fall. Attending school part-time, sporadically as viral outbreaks allow, or completely remotely may make excellent medical sense. But learning from home, or being constrained by in-school safety protocols, will reduce students’ exposure to the ordinary magic — the woven-in forces that promote healthy adolescent development — that happens at school.Can parents help compensate for what will necessarily be lost? Yes. Forget the backpacks and binders. Here are the essential supplies teenagers will need for the strange school year ahead.Safe Ways to See Their FriendsThe healthy adolescent trajectory toward independence involves loosening emotional ties to parents and strengthening ties to peers. This cr...

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