“The only thing you can control is your own effort.”
–Theodora van den Beld
This video is the 1st in a series about fostering academic success from The Raising Happiness Homestudy. Watch the rest of the videos here.
Three Ways to Create a Growth Mindset
(1) Use growth-mindset praise. First, identify where you are most fixed-mindset in praising your children. Is it during athletics? When they bring home grades? For me, it was when my kids brought home art projects. Identify a specific situation: this will be your action trigger.
Second, decide what you will say the next time you praise your kids. The key is to focus on the process rather than the end-result.
(2) Ask process questions. Who taught you how to do that? Did you use a different strategy this time? With younger kids, just asking them very simple things (Who did you sit by when you did that? What type of material did you use?) can be enough to provoke a process-oriented conversation.
(3) Identify where your KIDS are most fixed-mindset. Do your kids have fixed-mindset ideas about one area of themselves? Help them identify where the fixed-mindset is hamstringing them, and help them outline a practice strategy. Think of my belief that I couldn’t carry a tune, and how that almost prevented me from auditioning for the high school musical.
Related Video: How to Praise Children
Join the Discussion
- Where are you most fixed-mindset? What sort of change have you scripted?
- Where have you been successful at fostering a growth-mindset?
Your reflections and suggestions (comment below this posting) will inspire others to make similar changes, so don’t hesitate to “brag” about your successes. By the same token, if you are struggling, tell us about it! Others will certainly have suggestions for you.
If you would like to download the audio version of this video to listen to in your car or on the go, click the link below. DOWNLOAD THE AUDIO VERSION HERE.
This post is taken from “The Raising Happiness Homestudy,” an online course I created as a companion to my book Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. I’m sharing “classes” from this online course here, on my blog. Want to see previous posts? Just click this Raising Happiness Homestudy tag. Enjoy!
This is very interesting. It made me realize that I have some “fixed” mindsets left over from childhood. For instance, when I was in elementary school, in gym class I would usually get laughed at whenever I tried to throw a ball or a bean bag. As a child, you eventually adopt the idea, “Well, I just can’t throw.” But the real explanation is probably this: “I was never actually taught how to throw.” With proper coaching and practice, I’m sure I could’ve improved and become at least competent. Of course, as an adult, I care very little about this skill now, but it helps to know I wasn’t just some hopeless misfit—I just never had any instruction or guidance in this area.
A couple of questions:
1) Is it a mistake to praise kids for their looks (which obviously are mostly genetic and involve little or no effort)?
2) What if it’s obvious your child has an unusual gift? For instance, let’s say your child is an amazing baseball player—talented enough to win a scholarship to college and perhaps even become a pro. Obviously at some point he’s going to realize he is extremely gifted. How would you handle praise in that kind of situation?
Anyway, I love the quote by van den Beld. And I think this quote from Madeleine L’Engle is relevant as well:
We can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.
I like the example from your own childhood!
1) Yes, I think so. Praising kids for things that are totally out of their control makes them anxious. I think things that they have some control over, e.g., “you look beautiful in that dress!” is fine, but in general, when people are praised too much for their looks they become insecure about being loved for their looks, which they have no control over.
2) What we see as “gifted” is usually as much innate passion and interest as anything else. Talent is developed through deliberate practice, good coaching, etc. A child can be born with a proclivity to baseball, to use your example, but they will not get the scholarship without a lot of effort and hard work. So we can talk to our kids about what they can do to develop their talents, pursue their most passionate interests, and fulfill their particular potential.
I like the example from your own childhood!
Thanks, Ms. Carter. And I just thought of another one from adulthood yesterday: “I just can’t get bell peppers to grow.” LOL.
e.g., “you look beautiful in that dress!” is fine, but in general, when people are praised too much for their looks they become insecure about being loved for their looks, which they have no control over.
OK, thanks. So I guess all these little girls who get entered in pageants very early by their moms probably end up being very insecure. In fact, it makes you wonder whether pageants are really healthy at all, because, regardless of what they claim, the focus is mostly on beauty. Of course, bodybuilders do have some control over their looks (i.e., their muscles), but they often seem to be some of the most insecure people out there, looking in the mirror dozens of times each day. So, I guess any focus on looks is probably a recipe for insecurity.
What we see as “gifted” is usually as much innate passion and interest as anything else.
When I was in junior high, there was a program called TAG, which stood for “Talented and Gifted.” That probably did a lot of harm to kids.
So we can talk to our kids about what they can do
to develop their talents, pursue their most passionate interests, and fulfill their particular potential.
Yes, it does—I appreciate your response. Of course, there are composers like Bach and Chopin, who basically just had music running through their heads that they had to express. Very few people have that kind of amazing gift. All the same, your approach still applies—they too still had to work hard to fulfill their potentials.
Incidentally, focusing on effort rather than outcome kind of makes the whole notion of professional sports rather laughable. It’s not about competence vs. incompetence, because if you’re playing professionally, you’re obviously very good already. But sports is all about winning, winning, winning. Nonetheless, if Player A beats Player B, or Team D loses to Team E, what does it really matter, as long as everyone is working hard and trying their best?
In a sane view of things, it shouldn’t. Maybe that’s where this expression comes from: “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” Anyway, I guess adopting a growth mindset is a good cure for sports fanaticism. 🙂
I think what’s great about a growth mindset is that it really puts everyone on an even playing field, helping kids (and even adults) avoid feelings of both superiority and inferiority.
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