Okay, maybe not everything you should be doing – but a lot.
Between the music lessons, art therapy, private tutors, hyperbaric therapy and special gluten/casein-free diet, there isn’t much more you could fit in – or so you imagine.
But what if I told you about the one thing you might be doing that actually increases your child’s chances of failure?
Success isn’t about having the best teachers or being the smartest kid in the class.
Maybe you think your child is guaranteed to be a success if you follow the magic formula: the most demanding curriculum, taught by the best teachers, at the best schools. Followed up of course, by the latest in educational software and extracurricular “enrichment.”
You couldn’t be more wrong.
Study after study shows that none of these things can predict or guarantee success. In fact, many of the children who received the best of the best – failed. Miserably. And lest you think that the kids who failed were average kids: they weren’t.
We’re talking about bright, articulate, most-likely-to-succeed kids. Handsome, funny, personable kids- the ones who you’d least expect to fail.
So what gives?
Success is all in the mind.
The fact is that a simple belief you hold has a profound effect on how you live your life. It impacts your personality, your intelligence, your level of creativity, and your resilience to life’s inevitable setbacks. And because you are central to your child’s life, it has a profound effect on whether or not your child is able to fulfill their potential.
What is it? It’s called a mindset, and it’s based on the research of Dr. Carol Dweck, who is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading researchers in personality, social, and developmental psychology.
Which mindset are you?
Basically, there are two types of mindsets. In the first one, the fixed mindset, people think your level of intelligence can’t be changed. You’re either born smart – or not. Neither can you do much about your personality, your creativity, or any other important part of what makes you you.
Because of this, people with a fixed mindset feel a need to constantly prove themselves. They need continual reassurance that they are successful, smart, or good at what they do. Each time they are confronted with an event that confirms their talents, they get a boost of self-esteem.
But not every experience can be a good one. So when people with a fixed mindset encounter failure, they’re devastated. Their whole concept of themselves rests on others viewing them as a resounding success. Anything other than that is interpreted as a judgment against their whole being.
People who have a growth mindset, however, believe that things like intelligence or creativity can change, depending on how hard you work at it. So they aren’t devastated by evidence that they’re not perfect – they just buckle down and get to work on being better tomorrow than they are today. Failure is a challenge to find out what went wrong, and do better next time.
And even though they recognize that some people may be born with more talent, or smarts, or creativity, they know that with hard work and effort, they can achieve at least as much, and often more, as the other guy.
Can you see how that empowers children, and why a child with a growth mindset is primed for success?
How you can tell if you’re encouraging a mindset that will doom your child to failure.
The easiest way to tell if you’re parenting from a fixed mindset or a growth mindset is to examine how you praise your children. Do you praise them for accomplishment? That kind of praise looks like this:
“ Wow! I’m so happy for you! You pulled an A on your last math test!”
“Great job. You finished your homework lickety-split. Now you’ll have plenty of time to play.”
“You got a ton of valentines! You must be really popular in class.”
“You’re great at soccer – you’re a real natural.”
“What a beautiful picture! It’s so colorful and lively – it makes me feel happy to look at it.
When you praise your children from a growth mindset, you’re not interested in how much your child accomplished. It doesn’t matter to you how smart, how popular, or how talented they are. Instead, it’s the effort that counts, and the learning that took place.
Here’s what praise from a growth mindset looks like:
“Wow! I remember all of those extra hours you spent reviewing your times tables. It makes me so proud of you when I think of how hard you worked.”
“You finished your homework so quickly? What a shame! That means it was too easy for you. You missed out on a chance to grow your brain bigger. What do you think you could do next time to make it harder?”
“ I’m SO curious - how did you learn to make so many friends?”
“I’m happy to see you like soccer. Did you know that the superstars are the ones who work the hardest? Tomorrow, you can work on being a superstar too. I’d love to hear what you did to work harder at being a superstar.”
“I can tell you put a lot of thought and effort into making that picture. The colors are so lively, they make me feel happy just by looking at them. How did you do that?”
Do you see how powerful these statements are? In each one, you encourage your child to focus on being aware of the mistakes they made – and what they learned from them; their struggles to learn, and the effort they put in to do their best. You’re goal is the process, not the product.
Which mindset are you? How do you think that affected your success in school or in life? Love to hear from you – leave a comment below.