What does "she's got her head in the right place" mean here?

"I can't stop thinking and talking about it, but Sarah's happy to move onto the next thing," her mother says. "She wants to keep doing her drawings and talk about the exciting things she's doing at school, so she's got her head in the right place."

Source: CNBC News Story


2 Answers 2


It's the head that contains your thoughts that you think. Therefore, if you've got your head in the right place, you're thinking in the right direction. All she has got in her head is her art classes that she is constantly talking about. And that's a good thing because if she keeps at it one day she might become a professional painter. So, she is going in the right direction. I think that's basically what it means.

  • Quite the opposite, I'm afraid. The mother can think of nothing but the prize. But Sarah is "happy to move onto the next thing". She'll continue to enjoy drawing, but isn't obsessed by it. To use another idiom - her head has 'not been turned'.
    – Laurence
    Dec 24, 2019 at 21:35

The real context is that a 7-year-old girl won an astounding $80,000 and a trip to Mountain View (Google's HQ in California) for a drawing competition organised by Google. That's a lot of money, and a lot of instant fame for such a young child to handle.

The expression used by the mother “head in the right place” reminds me of the better-known idiom "heart in the right place" but she was probably referring to the idiom: have a good head on the shoulders

Be intelligent or shrewd; have good sense or good judgment. For example, We can depend on George to figure it out—he has a good head on his shoulders. This term originated in the 1500s as have an old head on young shoulders, alluding to the wisdom of age and physical youth. It took its present form in the 1800s

Her mother is clearly more excited than her daughter "I can't stop thinking and talking about it…" but her daughter just wants to carry on drawing and talking about her day at school – “Sarah's happy to move onto the next thing” just like any other first grader.

  • The phrase to have your head|mind in the right place was quite widely used in AmE in the 1960s as a synonym for "centered" and "focused". It does not relate to shrewdness or cleverness or intelligence as "good head on her shoulders" would.
    – TimR
    Jun 22, 2018 at 13:36

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