Going back to childhood, a fixed mindset may present through:
- avoiding games where the child may risk losing,
- giving up when something is harder than expected,
- over-reacting to small challenges
- negative self-talk, “I always mess up. I’m so stupid.”
- anxiety usually exhibiting as aggression and more.
While some of these behaviours are part of learning and to be expected, if you are noticing an excess of any of these than it may be time to begin focusing your family time on teaching a growth mindset.
Here are a six steps towards raising resilient, happy kids!
1. Making room for risk.
It’s natural to want to keep your child safe and secure from any harm. However, without intention, sometimes we can actually get in the way of a child developing an early growth mindset when we anticipate challenges and provide solutions before they have had an opportunity to experience any risk.
Please understand that there is a difference between putting a child in danger and allowing some risk in their life. Following your own discretion, can you think of ways you can gently increase your families room for risk?
2. Praising their effort.
How often do we get caught up celebrating successes rather than attempts? I am definitely guilty of this in my own life. I feel like I should only celebrate something when I have been completely successful! However, this way of thinking can really get in the way of boosting positive thinking and resilience. When we focus on success alone we are missing out on so much opportunity.
Praising efforts as frequently (or even more than!) as we praise successes is a gentle, effective way of boosting any child’s drive to ATTEMPT. This is where the magic really begins.
3. Avoiding lectures.
Oops… how often have you heard yourself say this one?
“See what happens? I told you not to jump on the couch!”
Ack! I know! We are all guilty of falling into this trap. Seriously, refraining from saying, “Told you so!!” is so doggone hard sometimes BUT it is so important. You see, the problem with lecturing or scolding is that children can begin to associate shame with their failures.
They may begin to avoid attempting anything risky or new altogether based on the shame they felt in the past when they made a mistake or failed at something. So, bite your tongue mama and let those mistakes slide.
4. Validating big emotions.
Your kiddo is going to experience massive emotions and will inevitably feel out of control at times. This is to be expected (not that that makes it any easier!!).
Sometimes all we can do is validate those emotions. In the heat of the moment, it can be impossible to “fix” everything. For instance, maybe your kiddo lost a beloved toy. It might not be possible to have a magic solution! And, to be honest, magical solutions don’t always help your kiddo develop a healthy, growth mindset.
In times like these, simply validate, “I know this is hard for you. How sad that you lost your toy.” …and that’s it. No promises to go buy a replacement, no jokes or teases, “It’s not THAT big of a deal!” Just stick to validating and allow your child to feel relevant and secure in your understanding and gentle support.
5. Encourage problem solving by asking questions.
Questions and conversations are a great avenue towards teaching your kiddo a growth mindset. The great thing about asking questions is you can use them any time, any place!
Aim to help your kiddo solve simple problems daily by asking more questions in place of giving instructions. A quick example of this is, “What do you need on your head so we can go outside?” versus “Go get your hat.”
This simple question places your child in a position to solve a problem on their own and experience the benefits of thinking for themselves. With daily practice, your family will begin to boost self accountability and self esteem through this small change in your interactions.
6. Re-framing your child’s point of view on failure.