Raising Children with a Growth Mindset
The golden word these days is GRIT. It’s that gumption you need to overcome any broad subject you need to learn or want to learn. The idea is that every person has the potential to grow and if they believe that, then they will reach their goals with enough dedication and focus.
The fact is that most kids naturally have this grit. We just seem to squash it by being too involved or cultivating an environment that doesn’t encourage real learning. It takes real grit to learn to walk.
We also limit their ability to grow by not expecting much from them. How can they know to grow if they don’t know they are suppose to grow? Thus, their growth mindset is squashed because we expect little from them. They are told too often that certain things are just for grown ups.
Here are my 3 Lifestyle Philosophies to Improving Growth Mindset
I am always learning and my kids see that. They see me make mistakes. They see me develop new skills. They see me reading or watching a video on the topics I am exploring. They see it’s hard work but they see me excited to tackle new challenges. All this modeling allows them to see what everyday natural growth mindset looks like and the joy that it brings.
I quite enjoyed modeling this year. Tackling a tractor was a huge undertaking for me as I am not very confident in my hand-eye coordination. I would have been very shy to tackle this in front of a group, and so I was very thankful for the large secluded backyard where I was able to make mistakes in a pressure free environment.
Modeling reminds you how your child might feel during any learning process. What does a pressure free environment look like for a child? Well, play is the most pressure free environment for kids to learn new things or try out new ideas. No one is leaning over their shoulder waiting for them to mess up.
Instead, the environment is fluid and adaptable to their new take on an idea. No one is there to correct them that Bonaparte didn’t conquer all of Africa. They are free to play with history and to consider it’s consequences. They can freely struggle with the philosophical ideals that surround war and dictatorships in a pressure free environment.
Give them the Tools
One of the greatest tools you can give a child is reading. Once you teach them to read, let them explore the non fiction area and historical fiction. I promise you that most children prefer the non fiction area over the fiction if you give them a chance. Children are naturally curious about animals, rocks, slime, light and gears.
Buy things that let them explore ideas like Legos, art supplies, globes, and puppets. These are all tools that let them put into practice ideas that they have learned. I can’t tell you how many times a historical book or video turned into a puppet play, an outdoor adventure or a Lego project.
Don’t be afraid of the “grown up” tools either. You better believe I had the kids testing out their skills on the tractor. They were just like their mommy, a hot mess, but they were learning and having fun.
This is grit in the making. When they see learning as playing with ideas, they will discover a passion for something new, and this will give them the gumption to tackle the subject with greater voracity.
At some point, too much interfering kills their grit. We come to their “rescue” when they start to struggle, but really, every rescue attempt is cutting at their validation that they are capable thinking human beings.
You may think answering their questions all the time is the best thing you can do, but we have to stop being Google for our kids. We know that Google can be great, but we know that Google doesn’t always provide the answers we are looking for nor is it superior to experiential knowledge. Before Google came along, most of us should have developed a habit of exhausting several resources and trying the idea out for ourselves.
Unfortunately, when we act as Google for our kids, we hinder them from exhausting their resources and trying out different ideas for themselves. Instead of answering their questions, foster their curiosity by encouraging them to use the information they already know. Then point them in the direction of several resources that allow them to explore their questions further. Most importantly, ask the observation questions.
- Explain to me what you see.
- How do you know that?
- How do you think can you find the answer?
- What do you think will happen? Why?
These are kind of questions that validate children’s thinking and encourages them to continue thinking. Again validation is a supporting element to developing grit and a growth mindset. They will be confident that they can find the answers for themselves.
There are a lot of great resources out there on grit, and I am glad for the movement. The old thinking that some are gifted and others are not have squashed the potential of our world, and I think focusing on grit and growth mindset will unlock the world for many children.
How are you making the growth mindset apart of your lifestyle?