How often have you watched your child give up on something? Or mutter the phrase, “I can’t do it!”? Or break down in tears due to frustration and fear of failure? It’s a hard thing to experience when you’re a parent. But it’s also a completely normal reaction for a child. We find out more in the latest issue of Raise.
All children feel vulnerable from time to time. They feel as though they are not good enough, as though they can’t do it, as though there is no point in even trying if they aren’t going to get it right away or be the best at it.
Our natural instinct is to protect them and to eliminate all risks so they don’t have to struggle or think this way. But often when we do this, we are not giving them the chance to try, to take on a new challenge and to build resilience.
It is one of our many jobs as parents to help our children build the confidence and strength to tackle all tasks, even the tricky ones. So how can we teach them to persevere even when it’s hard, to challenge themselves even when they aren’t the best, and to remain resilient even when faced with a tough situation?
Mind over matter – adopt a growth mindset
We all know how powerful our minds can be. When we think we can, we are more than halfway there. This is what a growth mindset is all about: teaching our brains to think positively in order to overcome obstacles.
According to MacKillop Catholic College Principal, Luke Reed, children experience both a fixed and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset, according to Principal Reed, is characterised by static learning. Avoiding challenges, giving up easily, ignoring useful criticism, seeing others’ success as threatening – these are all classic examples of a fixed mindset.
Most children will display these characteristics once in a while, especially as they grow older and face harder obstacles. But our goal is to help them transfer to a growth mindset.
A growth mindset focuses on developing as we go and on using our errors as learning tools rather than failures. Growth learners are “learners who will try anything, take risks with their learning, not be afraid of mistakes and are inspired to take on learning challenges,” Luke explains.
Once a child is in a growth mindset, they become more capable of thinking positively, embracing challenges and becoming resilient to any negativity that could hinder their growth.
To help your child develop a growth mindset you can try the following:
• Use growth mindset praise
“Give praise for taking initiative, seeing a difficult task through, struggling and learning something new, being resilient, or being open to and acting on feedback,” Principal Reed suggests. “Do not attribute their success to ‘being smart’ or ‘being the best’. Instead focus on hard work and perseverance.”
• Model flexibility and positivity
In times of hardship or change, adopt a ‘glass half full’ approach. “Model a positive attitude when faced with hardship or a change,” Principal Reed explains. Yes, things didn’t go to plan, but what can we learn from this? How can we use it to grow?
• Ask the right questions
The language that we use plays a big role in building a growth mindset. The next time you sit down to chat to your children, try asking them some of these questions:
1. What did you do today that made you think hard?
2. What happened today that made you keep going?
3. What can you learn from this?
4. What mistake taught you something?
5. What is another strategy you can use?
6. What did you try hard at today?
7. What will you do to challenge yourself today?
8. What will you do to improve your work?
9. What will you do to improve your talent?
10. What will you do to solve this problem?
Read the full article How to Raise Resilient Children in a Chaotic World in the digital edition of Raise.