It’s a fact that a child’s family is the single biggest influence on their mental health. Parents may not always realize how much their children look up to them, yet without thinking about it, parents are teaching their children how to act every day. Parental influence goes beyond actions to also include language used on a daily basis. In my research for this month’s topic, I discovered multiple articles on “The Growth Mindset.” My brief synopsis is that it teaches the importance of having a particular mindset when learning, not only in school, but throughout life. It also teaches language and strategies on how to let kids know it’s ok to struggle and make mistakes.
What is a Growth Mindset? According to www.mindsetworks.com, a growth mindset is the underlying belief that abilities can be developed through effort and practice. Children with a growth mindset persist in the face of challenges because they understand that effort and hard work can change ability and intelligence.
The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset which is the belief that intelligence is static and cannot be changed. When children have a fixed mindset, they tend to give up easily when they encounter obstacles because they believe they don’t have what it takes to learn difficult things.
Parents can model a growth mindset by:
Showing their children they are excited by challenges even if it’s scary or new. Discuss with them some of the challenges they’ve faced.
Viewing mistakes as learning opportunities. Discuss mistakes they’ve made and what they’ve learned from them. Speak positively about their mistakes and struggles to show children that taking risks and making mistakes are a natural part of the learning process.
Understanding the value of practice and trying different strategies. Talk to them about different strategies they’ve tried in a challenging situation.
Tips for Putting Into Action a Growth Mindset at Home
Help children recall a time when they learned something that didn’t come easily or was challenging. Point out the developmental nature of “getting good” and pointing out that we all go through the process of making mistakes, practicing, and then getting better.
Help children become curious about mistakes. Reframe the mistake as new information or as a step in the process of learning.
Give children the language to talk back to the negative self- talk with the growth mindset voice. “I know this is hard, but with practice it will get easier.”
Praise and value effort, practice, self-correction, and persistence.
Using these basic tools and concepts of the Growth Mindset is a great place to start, but what if the negative self-talk is difficult for your child to overcome? That’s where I come into the picture! There is a type of therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) that I’ve been trained in that can assist with negative thoughts. It can be used with all ages: young to adult. The basic concept is that our thoughts influence our feelings and behaviors, and if we can change our thoughts, we can change those other areas.
As a counselor working with children, I can help if your child is having difficulty with the emotions related to what they view as a mistake or failure. Some of the techniques I use include: labeling what emotions they feel, what or where they feel the emotions in their body, and coping skills to reduce these symptoms. Self-esteem activities could also play a role in therapy as well.
Being a parent can be one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs in life. Although it’s difficult to watch your child struggle and fail, you can influence how they react to it. You have the influence to impact their mindset and teach them how to learn and grow from their mistakes to become resilient, confident adults.