This post is from Anusha Rao, Communications and Social Media consultant. 

As we settle into another school year, it helps to take some time to set goals. As a parent, my perpetual goal is to provide a safe and healthy environment where my kids can reach their potential. This year, I’m also going to focus on encouraging my kids to have a growth mindset, especially as the higher grades bring new challenges.

If you are an educator, chances are you have heard the term. Carol Dweck coined it to describe how talent and innate abilities don’t necessarily lead to long term success unless combined with dedication, hard work and persistence. Through persistence, skills such as mathematical ability, can be developed, mastered and refined over time. The idea has been popularized by social media in recent months and many educators have started adopting it as part of their teaching. And guess what? It’s a powerful idea for families too!

Despite our best efforts, we will face failure and setbacks on the path to success. The key is seeing failure as integral and even essential to growth and learning.

With this in mind, our family has been adopting a few changes toward a growth mindset approach.

  • Watch the praise

My husband and I have been working on removing “Good job!”, “Very smart” and their variations from our vocabulary. We encourage with “It is such a pleasure watching you grow” and “You really put your mind to it!”

  • Let mistakes happen

If we didn’t stop to think about it, we might either disapprove of a mistake or swoop in to correct it. We are learning to stay at the periphery and only step in when required. We are also learning to accept mistakes with compassion, be it spilled juice or missed homework.

  • Challenge appropriately

An athlete who is strength training does not stop her exercise routine at the comfort zone, she pushes herself just a bit more. Similarly, we hope to present appropriate challenges that steps up their skills in small but continuous increments. These challenges may be in the form of life skills. If the 7 year old can put away his folded clothes for few weeks in a row, that is an opportunity to challenge him to fold and put away his own clothes.

  • Take time to reflect

Without reflecting on failure and thinking about what went wrong, we cannot learn effectively from it. If a homework was missed, it is necessary to have a conversation around the circumstances that led to it, and how we can learn to avoid a repeat. On the same note, if something worked, we have made it a priority to stop and take time to celebrate the success however small it may be!

My intention with this kind of mindful change in parenting is to prepare them at home for the academic challenges they will face in school – especially in areas like math. Success in math depends not just on the ability to do quick mental calculations, but on willingness to learn.  A great math student is not one who knows his algorithms but one who is willing to try different problem solving strategies, and is not afraid of getting it wrong.

Have you tried parenting with a growth mindset? What has worked for you?


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