By Lisa Edwards, M.Ed.
Have you ever thought that the way you encourage your child could actually be causing more anxiety or stress? Do you have a child who is a perfectionist, that has a hard time when things go wrong? As a parent, there are many ways that we can be talking with our child, providing guidance, etc., to help build them up and prepare them for failure, yet give them the encouragement to succeed.
Have you heard the complaint that “these days, kids get a ribbon for everything. They just need to participate to get a trophy.” It is true. We may have gone so far as a society, that we are not preparing our children to fail. And failure is a huge component of growth and improvement.
“A Growth mindset is when students understand that their abilities can be developed.” – Carol Dweck, Mindset, 2014
This growth mindset is the thought process that we can learn from our mistakes or failures, and that we can grow and make changes. All things can be improved upon. Those with a “fixed mindset” are continually stuck in the cycle of perfectionism and “getting everything right”. Or feeling that they can’t do anything to improve their situation.
A child with a fixed mindset might believe they are dumb and that they can never be as smart as the other children, where a child with a growth mindset believes that they can be as smart, or smarter, if they just develop themselves.
Our children truly succeed when they have this growth mindset, and how we interact with them as a parent, teacher, coach will affect this mindset.
The Right Way to Encourage
- Praise effort, not ability – Give them credit for what they accomplish through study and practice.
- Ask children about their work in a way that admires their efforts and choices. “I really like the green paint your chose for your artwork. I can tell you worked hard on this.”
- Encourage them to take their time and learn from their mistakes.
- Don’t label your child – Stay away from labels such as gifted, smart, talented, artist, scientist, mathematician. Let them explore all areas as labels restrict their potential.
- Teach your child to love challenges and be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning.
- Give honest feedback – Don’t protect your child from failures.
- If your child makes a mistake, help them learn from it. For example, if a child spills a glass of milk, don’t punish them or call them clumsy. Have them fix the mistake, by helping clean up, or ask what they could do next time. For instance…next time, I should hold the glass with two hands.
What if my child just isn’t motivated to do better?
Do you ever wish your child would want to do more? Do you wish they had the motivation to learn coding on their own, or seek out new opportunities. As parents, we feel overwhelmed at times if we are always the ones trying to push our children to do more.
First of all, it is important to determine whether your child is underachieving, or underperforming.
An underperforming child may trying hard, but could have limitations in what they can do. Parents need to step back and adjust their expectations to determine what the underlying reasons may be for not performing. Is there a barrier that is keeping them from performing better?
An underachieving child may have multiple reasons as to why they are not reaching the full expectations even though they have all the skills to be able to achieve.
If you feel your child is underachieving, or not trying their best, it is important to try to identify why. As parents, we may automatically assume that they are just being lazy and don’t want to achieve. Here are a few common reasons why a child maybe underachieving.
- Subject is Irrelevant – We all need to know our why. If children don’t know why they need to learn something, they tend to not have the motivation to do so.
- Fear – If school or learning has come easy for your child, they may be scared to fail. They aren’t used to the material being hard or having to work for it. Therefore, they worry about what would happen if it doesn’t come easy or they fail. – Remember to praise efforts and not the grade!
- Children need to dream – Is your child in charge of their own goals and dreams? Parents often project their own dreams or goals on the child without them being a part of that. Let them take charge and set their own goals and dreams. Parents support them!
Open your child’s world! Let them explore, experiment, and fail. Encourage your children to set their own goals and dreams. Praise them for efforts, not for the outcome. Let them see you learn from your mistakes. If your child lives within the growth mindset, the possibilities are endless!
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