Changing Your Mindset

During these unprecedented times of unknowns lurking around every corner because of the pandemic and the level of stress and anxiety creeping up in our children today I can’t help but wonder what a change in mindset could do for our children? Helping children realize that failures and worries are not a sign of defeat and loss but a way to empower them and work towards success. In my thinking about this concept it brought up the correlation of our happiness and successes in life being linked to our mindsets. If you have a fixed mindset and mold your children to have such a static way of thinking they will grow up not being able to see that their efforts are worth just as much as a completed task and that the criticism and obstacles that they face are merely a stepping stone and not a limitation or failure.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              


One of the things I feel that children struggle with the most is the ability to fail in a way that they see it as a challenge to do better rather than a measure of not being “good enough” at something. According to Carol Dweck  A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. In working with students that have areas of learning difficulties I have seen the negative effects of a “fixed mindset” on their self- esteem and the way they function in the world around them. Helping our children to be able to see that success and intelligence is working through obstacles and things not coming “easy” to us but rather facing a challenge head on is what helps us to reach our true full potential and helps us to continue growing socially, academically and emotionally.


In one mind set, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a tournament. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or talented. In the other mind set, failure is about not growing. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential. I think it is important to teach our children to find solace and motivation in the obstacles that they face and to look at it as a way to build them up.  It is important for them to have a positive mind frame in the face of challenges and to try difficult things rather than take the comfortable route of something they already know how to do. This reaffirms the ability to grow in intelligence and that intelligence should be fluid and not static. There should always be room for growth and goal setting and to plateau is to not reach your full potential.


Having said all this, I believe that intelligence and personality are not ingrained in us at birth and can be developed and molded throughout your life. It is how you look at problems you face and your ability to be present in the moment and not dwell on criticism but learn from it. I know as a parent and a counselor it is difficult to not just praise perfection or accomplishment but to also remember to praise a childs effort and ability to learn from their mishaps. This positive reinforcement for things that aren’t necessarily “perfect” will allow a child to see that they are loved and appreciated for the efforts they make.

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