Special feature: Bethany Taylor of Mama Finds Her Way is sharing terrific tips on how to help your child be happier and more successful throughout their life. Bethany blogs about her passions of family, personal growth and self care. Bethany and I connected through a collaborative group (called Your Blogging Mastermind) and I immediately loved her views on parenting as well as how to be a happy, healthy mom.
Today’s children are experiencing more anxiety and depression than ever before. Unfortunately, there are many factors in modern society that contribute to this that are out of our control.
The good news is, there is one simple thing we can do for our children that can have a massive impact on their mental and emotional wellbeing.
Helping our children develop a growth mindset is an important step towards living happier and more fulfilled lives.
What Is A Growth Mindset?
Growth mindset simply refers to our belief that we can change and improve our abilities through persistence and practice. The opposite of this is a fixed mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe our intelligence and abilities cannot be changed and therefore, mistakes are seen as failures.
People with a fixed mindset are often afraid of new experiences, will not take risks and feel the need to prove themselves consistently. Those with growth mindset however, are more willing to take on challenges and have a passion for learning.
Why Should We Teach Growth Mindset?
Cultivating a growth mindset in your kids can help them be happier, more resilient, more persistent and better learners. Mindset shapes our everyday lives and even correlates to future success. So the real question is, Why wouldn’t you help your kids develop a growth mindset?
How To Cultivate Growth Mindset In Kids
Before we dive into the tips, keep in mind that this is not a “one-and-done” type of deal. This is a continuous process that you will need to go back to over and over again over a long period of time.
In fact, I believe that we are never fully done developing growth mindset, and we need to be continuously reminded of it.
Now for my top tips on cultivating this type of mindset in your children.
Teach kids how the brain learns
Start talking to your kids about how their brains work and grow. Explain that their brains make more connections each time they practice and improve on a new skill. This helps them feel less upset when they make mistakes or experience failures.
You should also explain the differences between growth and fixed mindsets by giving examples of each. Start to have them identify each on their own. This will help them learn to identify when they are using a fixed mindset.
Becoming more self-aware is a great springboard for helping them flip their thinking.
Address Their Self-Talk
Explain to your kids that they have an inner voice and that sometimes that voice will tell them things that are not necessarily true, or helpful. Teach them to notice when a negative thought comes up and then how to address it. This is how I like to approach it:
Step 1: Notice the thought
Step 2: Ask yourself, is this true? Really 100% true?
Step 3: Would you say that to your best friend?
Step 4: Replace the thought with the way you would speak to your best friend.
As an example, a kid thinks “I’ll never make the soccer team – I’m the worst!” True 100%? No. There’s no way to know if they’ll make it if they don’t try plus every year the makeup and skill level of a team varies. Also, it’s pretty much impossible to be the worst at anything. Next, they’d say something to their friend that offers much empathy and encouragement right?
This is a great exercise for adults, too!
Model Growth Mindset
I truly believe that we need to become the person that we want our child to be in the world. If you want to cultivate a growth mindset in your child, you also need to cultivate it in yourself.
Some great ways to do this are to talk to your child about a time where you struggled, but overcame with effort and persistence. Let them hear you “think” out loud with phrases like, “This is difficult, but I know I will get there eventually if I keep trying.”
Praise Effort Over Success
Ultimately, we cannot control if we are successful at something or not, but we can control how much effort we put into something.
By praising your
child’s hard work, you are showing them that their effort is what truly matters
and they will come to realize that any successes they do have are a result of the level of effort given. This helps children
feel more in control of outcomes.
Praise Values Over Innate Skills
Similar to the effort based points above, it’s important to avoid praise based on things like intelligence, strength or beauty. I must admit, that I am not perfect with this, but it’s something I am improving on.
In some cases, it’ll be a subtle difference but the core of the praise matters. For instance, rather than focusing your praise on their test scores, say something like “Wow, you really studied hard! Great work! How do you feel about what you achieved?” then add an “I agree!” to their positive statement. This builds esteem based on their values and action instead of their natural-born talents.
This also helps reduce entitlement issues like “I’m so much (smarter, more talented, etc) than him. Why did he get (picked, awarded, etc.) instead of me?” We all know that often the smartest person in the room doesn’t get hired for a job right? Kids don’t necessarily. It’s crucial to explain that dedication, hard work and a love of learning are what almost all teachers, coaches and employers value most of all.
Teach Kids To Set Goals
children learn how to set goals and then guiding them through the process of
achieving them is an excellent way to show them that they are capable of
achieving and continually improving and learning. Sit down with your child and
talk about things that they want to get better at. Then help them set
actionable goals and plans to achieve the desired results.
These simple tips will help your kids develop a foundation for growth mindset and give them a new outlook on their abilities and intelligence. So pick a tip and dive in and help your kids create a life they love!
Feature photo by Konstantin Yugonov