Are you afraid of failing?
Do you avoid trying new things because you think you’ll be bad at them? Do you beat yourself up about mistakes you’ve made? If so, you’re not alone.
So many of us are limited by our own fears and devastated by the smallest setbacks.
Yet by shifting our attitudes, we can bring positive changes not just to ourselves but to our children, too.
Thanks to a learning theory, Growth Mindset, being implemented in schools across the country, our children are learning the tools they need for success.
The term ‘Growth Mindset’ was first coined by psychologist Carol Dweck and is shared by people who believe that their natural abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. They understand that intelligence isn’t fixed, and they thrive in the face of adversity.
Those with a fixed mindset are the opposite, avoiding challenges for fear of failure.
The detrimental impact of having a fixed mindset can last a lifetime and often starts in childhood.
Children with fixed mindsets struggle to cope with failures, and feel like they can’t learn beyond their natural capabilities.
This can lead to anger, anxiety and stress. It can also seep into other areas of life, such as diet, emotional wellbeing, self-image and confidence.
Some 50 per cent of people with life-long mental illness experience symptoms by the age of 14, so arming kids with the right tools to help them feel happier and cope with stress, is vital.
Anyone can adopt a growth mindset, and if this happens in childhood, it will pave the way for future success, not just in education, but in all areas of life.
Alex Wilson, a psychologist at the University of Northampton says: ‘Having a growth mindset can be the difference as to why some people succeed and others do not, even if they are equally talented. It is the foundation for learning.
‘It grants us the opportunity to see failure as an obstacle to be conquered, not an excuse or barrier. It’s especially important for children to approach learning with a growth mindset, but we can all develop our ability to respond to our struggles and weakest points with strength and determination.’
Edited by Punteha van Terheyden
For more information, visit mindsetworks.com. You can also follow the professor on Twitter @AlexPWilson
How to learn Growth Mindset
Harness the power of CAN’T and YET
Language is powerful. Rather than thinking ‘I can’t’, think in terms of ‘How can I?’. Try to catch the ‘I can’t’ at home and replace it with ‘How can I learn?’. Or, a simple ‘I can’t… YET!’.
Seek out challenges together
Approach learning without backing down and show your child the value of doing difficult things. Doing more taxing tasks will inevitably lead to growth, as your child will see the gradual increase in their abilities and be encouraged to develop a love of learning that will set them up for success in all areas. Seek out challenges and struggles on purpose, creating opportunities for all the family to get involved, be it a puzzle, or a new terrain for your family walk.
Praise small improvements
Teach your child to focus on getting better at something, rather than on the numbers or performance records. Equally, help them understand they don’t need to worry about looking bad if their attempt at something doesn’t work out. Focus on the small improvements in ability your child makes every day and praise those, rather than focusing on the overall target.
Be the example
Show your child how you practise having a growth mindset on a daily basis, and respond to external feedback with appreciation and energy. You can do this by not taking feedback personally. Show your kids that constructive criticism is helpful in life, and should be taken on board to help them grow.