It’s almost time for our children to return to school. Fortunately, as parents and educators, we can help them manage their anxiety leading into this transition by giving them tools to change their mindset.
If your child presents with a fixed mindset, they are more likely to struggle with schooling, deeming themselves failures. They have the belief that they will never be smart enough to succeed. If your child presents with a growth mindset, they believe in themselves as learners, that their intelligence will continue to grow along with their resilience and grit.
Here are 5 tips to encourage a growth mindset for learning and transitioning into the new school year.
1. Be a growth mindset model. How often do you say, and how often do your children hear you say – I can’t cook, sing, dance, draw, play sport, etc? If your child is observing you being negative about yourself, they will think this about themselves too. Try saying, I can’t dance yet, but I will be able to soon. Yet, is a really small word, but an extremely powerful one. Get them to practice dancing with you, and commend them on their persistence, on their grit and determination to succeed.
2. Pay attention to your child. Observe their patterns and praise them for their skills. Instead of saying – You’re smart, You’re brilliant – say, I love the way you kept trying until you got it or I love the way you persisted until you got that.
3. Encourage your child to not take the easy road. That is, help them to embrace challenges. Asking a child a series of questions they already know the answers to is not going to grow their brain in any way. Teach them perseverance in problem-solving, teach them to think outside that box to find answers and let them know its okay to not know.
4. Having a growth mindset is not just academic learning with the education setting but applies to many other areas of life – music, sport, art, social learning. How many times have you tried to learn piano, or throw/kick that ball into a net? How many times have tried to initiate play or conversation with someone but it didn’t go very well? Let your child know that all this isn’t failure; its something that we need to continually work on and sometimes for a lifetime.
5. Discourage peer envy. Talk to your child about what they can learn from others who appear more successful than them rather than be jealous or envious. Skills may come more easily and readily to one child than the other and this is okay. Teach your child to practice, to persist, to work hard with their learning – social, emotional, academic. And continually remind them of that word – Yet. That little three-letter word that leads to success.