My dream car is the Delorean, but not just any Delorean. I want the one from Back to the Future. You know the ’80s movie about going back in time. I would take it back to my childhood to learn to have a growth mindset.

Do you know what a growth mindset is? I certainly didn’t.

A growth mindset is having the belief that you can learn new skills or become better at something through new experience. As opposed to thinking you either got it or you don’t.

The latter is called a fixed mindset which I admittedly had for WAAAYYYYYY too many years. It’s embarrassing really. This is when you give up because you’re not good enough, just don’t cut it, that’s just who you are, uh… I think you are picking up what I’m laying down.

So Dr. Carol S. Dweck is kind of a big deal. She wrote a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and oh mer gosh, it’s good. She talks about how to use a growth mindset for business, school, relationships, and parenting… yes parenting.

Can you imagine your life if you applied this to all areas of your life from the beginning? Dang!!

We can’t go back, but we can teach our children to embrace a growth mindset. So here are a few things that Dr. Dweck said about praise and labels.

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Praise and Positive Labels can backfire.

Children who are told they are smart start to believe that they should be above average even in instances where they have never been taught the material.

If children believe doing well means they are intelligent, then doing poorly means they are deficient. This can lead a child that is actually very skilled in a subject to feel pressure and lose interest possibly in many subjects even extending outside of the area of concern.

With regards to positive praise the same dynamic can happen. A child that is constantly praised for the outcome of their performance may start to shy away from new challenges. If they stretch themselves and end up proving they are not proficient, they may believe it just isn’t a good fit for them and that they can’t improve.

 

Negative Labels

Most parents would never purposefully negatively label their children, but stereotypes still seep through in tv shows and well meaning people. Things like girls aren’t good at math and science has been proven to have an effect on performance. This will often times lead to disinterest in the subject.

Here’s what’s awesome though, if a child has a growth mindset they will not be affected by the positive or negative label.

Just because we may not be a prodigy right out of the gates doesn’t mean we can’t learn to be absolutely amazing at something.

I realize I may never get my Delorean and travel back in time, but I can help my little man become all he can from an early age.

Here are a few things as parents we can do to encourage a growth mindset:

1. Notice effort not results.

Use: “You put a lot of effort into this assignment!!”

Instead of: “Wow! Way to get an A Elise!”

You can also ask questions of the child in response to something they want to show you. Instead of evaluating their work or performance. You can ask them how they feel about what they have done. Over time they will rely more on their own assessment of how they have done instead of what others think.

2. Be aware of labels.

I’ve heard a lot of parents label their children. They usually mean it in an endearing and loving way, but it can also limit what the child perceives as their strengths and weaknesses.

“This is little Marco, he is my little scientist and Annabel is my ballerina.”

Statements like this can unintentionally create a fixed mindset.

3. Give examples of heroes that had to work hard for their skills.

Back in the day the example was always Micheal Jordon not making the cut for his high school basketball team. He made a deal with the coach to come in early everyday to workout so he could be considered for the team later on. He had to work hard to become a legend in the game.

You can find examples all around.

If you are already using these communication techniques with your children you are seriously Amaze-balls! If not, that’s okay too (I wasn’t either). We can start now.

Check out the book by Dr. Dweck to get more information. Here is a link to purchase it from Amazon. This is not an affiliate link.

Take care of those babies (and you too)!

Lots of love!

Jen

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