Did you know research shows that kids who understand that their brains are capable of growing, try harder, achieve more success, and are overall happier kids?
The beliefs we ALL have about our abilities and potential, shape the way we interpret our struggles and our successes. It fuels our behavior and ultimately predicts future success.
Our kids may be really young right now, but that’s why it’s the PERFECT time to get started!
We can start putting strategies into place NOW that will help them navigate the struggles they’re going to encounter LATER.
All of the strategies I am going to teach you in this post do NOT require advanced language skills. Heck, they don’t even require ANY expressive language skills on your child’s part!
When we are dealing with young children who don’t talk yet or kids who struggle with communication, we need to focus on modeling, modeling, MODELING!
Let’s dive in…
What Exactly IS Growth Mindset?
According to Dr. Carol Dweck, growth mindset refers to the belief that our intelligence and abilities can be improved upon with effort and the right strategies.
Someone with a growth mindset…
- confronts challenges willingly
- loves learning
- views “failures” or struggles as a springboard for growth
Don’t we all want that for our kids?
Of course we do!
We HATE seeing our kids struggle, but knowing that they have the ability to persevere is probably one of the most reassuring feelings as a parent.
On the other side of the coin, a fixed mindset refers to the belief that our intelligence cannot be changed in a meaningful way. Our abilities are set traits that cannot be altered no matter how hard we try.
Someone with a fixed mindset…
- views mistakes as failures
- fears new experiences
- avoids risks
- feels the constant need to prove themselves
I think we can all agree that this isn’t the type of life we want our kids to live.
And let’s bring this full circle here… you learned in this post that kids who feel better, behave better. Well having a growth mindset helps them feel better every single day and for the rest of their lives!
THIS. IS. IT. PEOPLE!
We are learning how to change their BRAINS so they can physically, mentally, and emotionally FEEL better so they can BEHAVE better.
We are taking the focus off the behaviors themselves and digging deeper!
This is where it all starts.
I hope you’re all getting as PUMPED UP as I am about this! We are the ones who can make this a reality, mamas! Our influence is the greatest of any other.
Let’s make sure we get them on the path to success… starting TODAY.
Five Ways to Help Your Child Develop a Growth Mindset
There are many strategies that help contribute to a growth mindset. We are going to talk about 5 of them, specifically geared to early or delayed communicators, to keep this lesson semi-digestible.
1. Positive Self-Talk
My very favorite strategy and the highlight of this lesson has to do with Positive Self-Talk.
Researchers found that people who consistently talked to themselves in a positive and optimistic way, had higher self-esteem, self-confidence, and reduced stress and anxiety!
It’s what impacts that inner voice that we hear in our heads every single day.
Positive self-talk plays a HUGE role in how we think and feel.
One way to practice positive self-talk is by reciting affirmations with your child daily. Affirmations are short little sentences said in first-person that help highlight positive characteristics.
Tips for Success
- Complete at least once daily
- Say the affirmations together (you first then have him repeat as best he can) in front of a mirror
- Recite in first-person (i.e. I am a good listener as opposed to Johnny is a good listener)
- Stick to the same small handful of affirmations for at least a week so they have time to be internalized by your child
- Don’t force your kids to repeat them after you. If they do, great. If not, just continue to model it.
2. Praising Effort
Have you ever said to your child, “you’re so smart!”
I’m sure we all have. But did you know that this statement actually promotes a fixed mindset and can have some unintended consequences?
I know it sounds ridiculous but take a look at this excerpt from Today’s Parent….
According to a study that was just published in Psychological Science, kids are more likely to cheat if you tell them they’re smart.
Researchers, including Kang Lee from the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto, did an exercise with 300 kids between the ages of three and five. The kids were told to guess whether a card had a number higher or lower than six. In the initial trial, some kids were told they were “so smart” when they got the answer right, while others were told they “did well this time” or were not praised at all. In a later round of the same game, the experimenter left the room, telling each kid not to look at the card. Kids who were told they were smart were more likely to peek when they thought no one was looking.
Researchers concluded that kids know the difference between being smart and doing something smart. And when adults praise kids’ innate ability rather than their single performance, it makes them inclined to want to uphold that positive perception of their intelligence—and they’re willing to cheat to do so.
Mind blown, right?!
The solution is to focus on process praise.
Process praise places emphasis on the steps your child took to get to the *successful* end result.
It shows them that the effort is what truly matters. And talking about the exact steps provides them with feedback necessary to re-create that desired end result in the future.
Take a look at this example of how process praise works from Understood…
“I’m impressed at how hard you worked to complete that science project. I know you had trouble getting started, but it made a lot of sense to ask your teacher for help in figuring out how to break down the assignment. It seems like working with a partner really helped keep you accountable for getting all your work done. Your grade reflects all that hard work!”
That example is geared more towards older kids but notice how the process or effort was emphasized. The parent specifically stated the steps the child took to solve the problem or get the desired result.
Let’s look at some simplified examples for a younger child…
“I love how you slowed down that time and stacked your blocks really carefully! Your tower didn’t fall down!”
“Wow, look how you took your time and colored inside the lines! Your picture looks beautiful!”
For younger kids, we want to keep it brief, but still specific and process-focused.
Telling them “good job” without any follow-up doesn’t cut it because it doesn’t help them to repeat the steps needed to achieve that success again.
This little tweak can make a big difference in developing a growth mindset.
But what if they try really hard, but don’t succeed?
This is where we need to switch to acknowledgment of the struggle, encouragement to keep a positive attitude about it, and then guidance through the learning/problem-solving process.
Instead of repeating “good try” or “keep trying” over and over, try saying this…
“It looks like you’re having a tough time getting those puzzle pieces in. It’s okay, we’ll just have to look at it a different way!”
Then point out the parts of the puzzle like the corner pieces, straight edges, the pictures/colors that would fit together. Have THEM continue to hold the pieces and adjust them based on your guidance.
Once they successfully get the pieces in, you can praise the process…
“I love how you didn’t give up and kept on trying new ways to fit the pieces in!”
3. Reframing Mistakes as Opportunities
This one is simple and straightforward (yay!).
We want to get our kids excited about growing their brains!
When your child is frustrated with something (a toy, a game or his little sister ;)), tell him…
“This seems like a great opportunity to grow our brains!”
Follow that statement up with guidance through the problem-solving process.
Create an environment where challenges and setbacks normal/expected and are celebrated.
4. Talking Through Your Own Problems and Solutions
We know by now that “do as I say, not as I do” is complete bologna.
The fact is, what we DO has a far greater influence on our kids than what we say.
They are watching our every move and figuring out expectations based on how we behave, respond, and treat others.
So by consistently practicing what we preach, solving problems instead of reacting, they’ll be much more likely to follow suit.
When you are frustrated with something you’re doing, collect yourself and model exactly what you would want your child to do. Talk through how you feel about it and then follow up with what you’re going to do to solve the problem.
5. Using the Word “Yet”
Remember that developing a growth mindset is all about teaching our kids that their brain is elastic; it’s changeable.
Just because they can’t do something now, doesn’t mean they never will be able to do it.
Simply add the word “yet” to the end of the “I can’t do it!” statement that we often hear from our toddlers.
Telling them “yes, you can do it” by itself, will just make them more frustrated because right now they really can’t do it!
Our job is to try and show them that with continued effort, they WILL be able to do it so they shouldn’t give up!
If implementing all 5 strategies feels overwhelming to you, try just picking ONE per week. Pick the one that you feel would make the greatest impact right away or that you could be successful with quickly. Once you feel confident with that strategy, move to the next one.
We are simply filling our kids’ heads with POSITIVE THOUGHTS in order to see POSITIVE BEHAVIOR.
If you enjoyed this post, PIN IT so you can come back to it later!