“I can’t do it” she whines. “It’s too hard. I don’t know how“. If you’ve ever heard your kids say this you know it can be heartbreaking. They want so badly to figure something out and feel scared that they might not be able to. As a mom you might want to prevent that pain by stepping in to do it for them. Or sometimes you might feel like you don’t have the time to wait for them to figure it out so you just take over. If either of those sound like you just know you’re not alone and you can still help develop a growth mindset in your child. I’m going to tell you about the one tiny word that can foster a growth mindset.
What is a Growth Mindset
A mindset is the set of attitudes someone has toward something. When it comes to attitudes toward intelligence you could have a fixed mindset- believing that the intelligence you are born with is all you get. Or you could have a growth mindset- believing that your intelligence can grow with your efforts. It’s this growth mindset that helps kids thrive during challenges.
Why a Growth Mindset is Important
Kids with a fixed mindset may feel like their efforts do not matter and they can’t change. To them, putting forth effort might feel like a sign of weakness. These children may feel like they are constantly having to prove that they are smart and so feel like they can’t allow any failures. A child with a growth mindset sees her intelligence as something that can be developed which opens up opportunities to try new things, learn new skills, and not be discouraged in the face of setbacks.
Benefits of a Growth Mindset
Kids who believe “you either have it or you don’t” may worry about appearing smart and so won’t attempt anything that they might fail at. Kids with a growth mindset have a strong belief that their efforts matter. These kids will worry less about whether they’re talented and feel more positive about putting in the hard work. Feeling like their effort can make a difference will allow these kids to reach for bigger goals.
“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.” –Carol Dweck
How to Cultivate a Growth Mindset
Can you spot the difference in these two statements?
“I can’t do this homework. I just don’t get math.”
“I can’t do this homework yet. I don’t understand this math problem.”
The real difference is in that one tiny word: yet. By adding the word yet the challenge morphs from impossible “I can’t” to possible “I can’t yet”. Developing a growth mindset starts with a belief in yourself. By telling yourself it isn’t happening yet it leaves room for it to happen eventually and encourages effort towards it.
If your child seems like he’s not motivated listen closely to how he talks about challenges. It may just be a fixed mindset slowing him from being his best self. Encourage him to add yet to the end of those worry statements. “I can’t do it, yet”, “I don’t understand this, yet”, “I’m not good at this, yet”.