As I have mentioned over the last couple of months, it is vital that we all have a growth mindset. This is especially true as we nurture our children. Parents have a crucial role in this nurturing process. Parents should encourage their children to embrace new learning experiences and challenges. As Dr. Carol Dweck, an educational researcher has written, “Parents should not shield their children from challenges, mistakes, and struggles. Instead, parents should teach children to love challenges. They can say things like ‘This is hard.What fun!’ or ‘This is too easy. It’s no fun.’ They should teach their children to embrace mistakes, ‘Ooh, here’s an interesting mistake. What should we do next?’ And they should teach them to love effort: ‘That was a fantastic struggle. You really stuck to it and made great progress’ or ‘This will take a lot of effort…..’. Some of us need to work at cultivating a growth mindset. It takes time and practice, but it is well worth it when one experiences the difference that it makes in our and our children’s lives!
In last month’s blog, we suggested that parents should praise their children for their efforts, not achievements. Research suggests that parents should think twice about praising their kids for being “smart” or “talented,” because this may foster a fixed mindset. Instead, if we encourage our kids’ efforts and acknowledge their persistence and hard work, then we will support their development of a growth mindset. Children with a growth mindset believe that with effort and persistence they can learn and achieve in school and elsewhere. A growth mindset will better equip them to persevere and pick themselves up when things do not go their way. Parents should examine their own belief system as well. Do you have a growth mindset? Do you believe that with effort, persistence, and motivation your children can achieve their goals? Some of us need to work at having a growth mindset. It takes time and practice, but it is well worth it when one sees the difference that it makes in one’s children.
It’s important for our students to understand and embrace a growth mindset. One way that parents can really help their children is by carefully choosing the words that are used when they praise them. Every word parents say and action they perform sends a message to their children. These words and actions tell children how to think about themselves. Parents should always praise their child’s effort instead of praising accomplishments. Some good examples to use are as follows: 1) You really work hard and pay attention, 2) You work hard in school and it shows, 3) I can see you practicing; what great improvement, and 4) When you put forth effort, it really shows in your grades. So the next time you are ready to praise your child, stop, and think about how to use that opportunity to praise his or her effort instead of accomplishments.