During current times, most of us are spending more time than ever before with our children and grandchildren. There are so many small but powerful ways to make this count.
Be mindful to develop and reinforce a growth and effort-based mindset in your little ones. Let's look at two examples.
Example 1: Most of us have been exposed to the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if you keep telling someone that they are lazy, they won't let you down and will become lazy. We want the best for our kids and we try our utmost to encourage them. So, we keep telling young Doug how clever he is and even let him beat us at games, to reinforce this. The self-fulfilling prophecy will play out.... right?
Example 2: Young Doug comes home from school and tells you that he is useless at puzzles. You respond by reinforcing how good he is at counting. You are helping him to maintain his self esteem? This is the best thing to do ...right?
In the two examples above, you are trying to do what you think is in the best interests of your child. However, this may not be the case in the long term.
Ideally, you want to reinforce and develop a growth and effort-based mindset in your child.
Evidence informs that if you tell Doug that he is clever, he will be reluctant to tackle difficult tasks in which he may fail or new tasks that he may not be good at, for fear of failure and letting you down. It is better to reinforce the effort that Doug is putting into his counting: "Doug, I can see that you are working hard at your counting and I am proud of how well you are doing!". In this way, you are reinforcing that the more effort he puts into something, the better he will become.
In the second instance, you acknowledge Doug's frustration that he may not be as good as some of the other kids at puzzles. However, you remind him that the more he practices, the better he will become at puzzles. You may reinforce this by reminding him how good practice is making him at counting. Or, you might show him a video of him struggling to learn to ride his bicycle and another video of how competent he is now, after practicing. You can offer to help him practice puzzles and motivate him through his interest/curiosity in dinosaurs by committing to borrow some really cool dinosaur puzzles to do.
Children who develop a growth and effort-based mindset tend to be more open to learn new things, to learn from mistakes and to respond more positively to failure. This is what we want..... right!