- Child Development
No parent ever thinks, "I wonder what I can do today to undermine my children, subvert their effort, turn them off learning, and limit their achievement." However sometimes parents send the wrong message to their kids despite their best intentions.
Dr. Carol Dweck is a psychologist who researched achievement and success, with emphasis on the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Her findings illustrated that the way children perceive themselves and their learning abilities plays a critical role in their ability to learn. Here's the difference between the two:
A fixed mindset believes intelligence, abilities, and qualities are fixed traits, and talent alone creates success regardless of effort.
A growth mindset maintains that intelligence, abilities, and qualities can be developed through dedication and hard work.
Which mindset do you think is better?
You guessed it. The growth mindset enhances relationships, creates a love of learning, and increases motivation and achievement.
So how do we help our children to develop this mindset?
1. Be more intentional in how you deliver messages about success and failure.
- For example, in praising your child by saying, "You learned that so quickly! You're so smart!" These might seem like positive statements, but if you listen more closely, your child is hearing "If I don't learn something quickly, I'm not smart."
2. Praise children for qualities they can control.
- Effort, concentration, strategies, decision-making, and persistence are all qualities that influence a child's ability to learn. Acknowledge them!
- Children praised for their innate brainpower might develop the sense that hard work is not necessary.
3. Avoid using labels.
- Labeling children as "smart" or "clumsy" gives them little control over changing how they are perceived.
4. Teach your children about their brains and emphasize the following:
- Our brains are a muscle that can be strengthened with practice.
- Every time we learn something new, our brain's neurons form new connections and these connections multiply and get stronger.
- The more we challenge our minds to learn, the more our brain cells grow
- Eventually the things that were difficult to do now come naturally
I encourage you to refer to Carol Dweck's book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success for more information on how to instill a growth mindset in your children. Having growth mindsets will allow children to reach even higher levels of achievement and motivation in life!