More Importantly, What is Your Child’s Mindset?
Over the past two days, I have been attending training courses on Mindset and children.
Mindset has been a buzzword in my work world for quite some time and the courses I have taken have created many AHA! moments for me. It really has resonated with me in my writing work, my work with children, and my office mentality.
As a writer, it has come to my attention, that perhaps my Mindset has been compromised. With children, it is an immeasurable value to help them understand what Mindset entails, and working within an office of over 60 employees (mostly women), changing my Mindset will improve my work ethic, my attitude and my work/life balance.
Let me break it down
Based on a Harvard study, as well as MULTIPLE research studies, there are two main Mindsets to consider when you self analyze, or when you work with children. Please bear in mind, I am not the expert when I explain this, however, once you learn about the two Mindsets, it creates a thought process that helps the way you think, and may change your direction of thought process.
If I was to use an analogy, such as Hockey, it may be easier to explain:
Mindset 1- FIXED MINDSET:
A child tries out for hockey and isn’t the best on the team, but also not the worst. He can shoot well on net, is a fast skater, and his coach tells him he has “promise” but needs to work harder and practice more.
The child, with a Fixed Mindset believes that he does NOT have the skills to succeed any further. Perhaps he has been told that he is good enough and his parents don’t push him to train or practice. His parents may believe that he is only capable of the skill set he was born with, based on his parent’s success or failure. “Your dad played hockey and he was good, but not good enough to be chosen for the NHL, so just play to have fun”.
Or, the child looks at his peers on his team, and believes he will never be as good as them, because he is not as adapt as they are. He has a Fixed Mindset on his capabilities and is content to stay in the middle of the team, because he is satisfied that he is not the best, nor the worst. The child may look at himself with lower self esteem, and have lower ambition because of it.
A Fixed Mindset tells us that we are “good enough” or that we are “not good enough”, so we give up or continue staying where we are, with no drive or ambition to excel. It is easy to throw our hands up with an “it is what it is” attitude and settle on being mediocre.
The same applies for children in school. Maybe they are a B or C student, and are told by teachers and parents that they need to “apply themselves” better, study harder or listen more attentively. With a Fixed Mindset, the child will believe they are incapable of making better grades because they believe that their brains aren’t intelligent enough. Perhaps they don’t understand how to study effectively, or they have a slight learning disability that has yet to be determined. Often times the child will just accept that they are who they are, and they don’t have the capability to earn higher grades in school.
It is so important as parents, and caregivers to encourage children to strive for excellence, but I will get into that in a bit.
Mindset 2- GROWTH MINDSET:
Harvard has been studying this Mindset in an in-depth, focused manner. It has been determined that the Growth Mindset is where strong leadership, high self esteem and ambition stem from.
The same child, who is playing hockey, is told by his coach that he has promise and potential. If the child has Growth Mindset, he will dig deep, practice daily, work on his weaknesses as a skater, and hone his strengths. He will be driven by his coach’s words, and his parents are more likely to be behind him, encouraging him by taking him for practices, hiring mentors and pushing him to succeed. Even if his dad was an “average” hockey player in his younger years, he will help his child to become better than he was.
The child in school with B and C grades, will progress by learning how to study, working through the challenges he has, and will celebrate every milestone. If he earns a B+ on his next report, he will analyze how he earned it and use that model to teach himself to get an A next time. With a Growth Mindset, every advancement or improvement in a skill is a push for the next one. You develop a sense of pride, accomplishment and growth.
With a Growth Mindset, you see competition as a strength. You use other’s skills or techniques as benchmarks and you strive to be better the next time.
With a Fixed Mindset, you settle for second best and resign to others who do better than you, believing that you will never be as good as your competitor.
When you consider where you are at in your life, which of the Mindsets do you feel fits you?
Fixed: You are happy in your job, and have no idea what else you could be doing. You have no desire to move up the ladder and every day, you punch the clock, for a paycheck. Your dreams of retirement are to have a quiet life of solitude and just do nothing, but exist. Maybe you have a dream of owning a second home in a warm climate, but the dream seems too intimidating to push for it. You might even envy others who are successful, but have no idea how to get to their level.
Perhaps your boss has told you that you do “good work” or that your work needs improvement, and over the years, you have resigned to the fact that you are simply a NUMBER at your job. Perhaps in school, you were an average student, from an average home, with an average income and your parents always made you feel like you could not be more successful than they were.
Growth: You are happy in your job, but you KNOW you can be better. You take on extra work, you challenge yourself to interview for higher management. You strive to read and study the next levels of positions within your company. You go out of your way to connect with people in your field to leave positive impressions with them. Unable to settle for second best, you see your competitors as challenges and you make attempts to learn from them and become better than they are.
Your boss has been behind you, providing opportunities for advancement, or extra training to help you learn more. You hear phrases like “up and coming” and “very professional and driven”. In school you studied for hours, earned top marks and fought to be Valedictorian of your Graduating class. Even if you didn’t achieve your goals, you learned from your mistakes and used them to hone your skills.
In this book: Mindset-The New Psychology of Success, author Carol S. Dweck Ph.D talks about how we can build a child’s capacity for Growth Mindset in Child Care. She speaks about empowerment, and how to provide the framework in Early Childhood to help your child develop a Growth Mindset. The psychology behind it is so simple, in its complexity.
If you had the chance to raise your children all over again, or if you currently have young children at home, which Mindset would you rather they have?
I cannot stress enough how imperative it is to in-still a Growth Mindset into our children. We want them to have successes we could never reach, right? We want them to have high self esteem and drive, along with an innate ambition. We want them to believe that they can DO ANYTHING they want to, and have a life that is full of promise and open doors.
It is also very important to start this mentality as soon as they are born. Encouraging infants with “you can do it” and “you’re amazing”, even when they begin to reach for items or roll over from their backs to their bellies. This gives them the start of a strong Growth Mindset. Words of encouragement become a norm in your household and babies can sense and understand the environment of your words.
Most people don’t understand how early Mindsets can begin to set in. A child from birth to kindergarten has a brain that develops faster and stronger than it does for the entire rest of his/her life combined. Early Childhood studies tell us that the first five years of our lives, we learn more, and we absorb more, in brain capacity, than we do from 6–100 years old.
I will also add, that finding a child care program for your children that fosters the development of a Growth Mindset is also crucial to ensure your children stay on the continuum of their learning path. Have those conversations with the lead of the program and take time to observe in the daycare or preschool program to ensure that the Growth Mindset is properly and consistently in-stilled in the children in their care. Remember, some children are in child care for more hours of the day than they are at home. The impact of the time spent in daycare or preschool can determine your child’s mindset for future years. The environment should be positive with environments that provoke thought, challenge and problem solving. Staff / child interactions need to be observed as engaging and pro-active rather than reactive.
Think of the skills we learn from birth to kindergarten. Walking, talking, moving, listening, seeing, hearing, bone development, muscle building, growing, playing, sleeping, social and motor skills, cognitive learning, bonding, loving, attachment, eating, crying, laughing, concepts like sorting, and on and on. Toddler and babies even understand what competition means. Think of the child who takes a toy from another, or the toddler who teaches his buddy to climb the stairs.
There is no other part of our lives that we take on as much learning and self analyzing, as we do in those years. This is when we need to begin building on Mindsets. These are the crucial years where we can encourage success in a child, or knock them down to a Fixed Mindset.
Mindsets can be learned, changed, challenged, and adapted to, during adulthood. However, we all know as adults, that habits take a lot more focus and time as we age. Changing your mindset from Fixed to Growth is completely possible, even in our middle years or older, but wouldn’t it have made our lives so much more fulfilling and successful if we would have been raised in an environment where it was created within us from our Early Childhood?
Change your mindset. Change your life.
Credit : Mindset- The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck Ph. D
Fixed and Growth Mindset in Education and How Grit Helps Students Persist in the Face of Adversity Hochanadel, Aaron; Finamore, Dora
Journal of International Education Research, v11 n1 p47–50 2015