When your child tries to do something and finds it hard, how do they respond?
If they get frustrated and stop trying, with complaints of ‘I can’t do this’, then they most likely have quite a fixed mindset. This is basically where we believe that we’re born with a set of traits and talents and that what we can do and achieve is down to these things rather than how hard we work and how much effort we put in.
A growth mindset on the other hand is where we realise that most things can be learnt and achieved over time with effort and perseverance. This is the sort of mindset that we want to encourage in our children, so that they grow up with this belief that they’re not limited in what they can do. That they can do pretty much anything if they keep going, keep trying, keep learning.
Here’s one little thing you can do to help your children develop a growth mindset.
Try using one three letter word with your child.
There is so much power in that one little word.
It takes you from “I can’t do this”, to “I can’t do this YET”.
That little word at the end of the sentence changes things so much. Suddenly, instead of basically saying ‘this is hopeless, I can’t do it, I won’t even try any more’, we are saying ‘this is hard, but if I work at it I will be able to do it’.
Make a point of adding the word ‘yet’ on any time your child gets frustrated with something and says that they can’t do it.
Explain to them that maybe the maths problem they’re struggling with is hard for them because they haven’t learnt the best way to work out the answer yet. Even people who are naturally good at maths need to be taught strategies and systems for getting to the right answer. It’s all just a matter of time and figuring things out and persevering.
There are various other things we can do to help develop a growth mindset in our children. But this little word, yet, is an amazing place to start.
Try it next time your child is struggling.
Remind them that they can’t get to the top of the climbing frame yet.
That they can’t swim breast stroke properly yet.
That they can’t tie their shoelaces yet.
Keep adding that word on to the end of the sentence, and take the time to expand on it. Explain that while they can’t do what they’re trying to do right now, if they keep trying they will get there.
After a while this message will start to sink in and they’ll realise that if they stick with it and keep working they can do anything.