Kids can learn big ideas from a very young age. This is exciting, but also puts the pressure on parents to be extra mindful of what they’re passing down. One concept to be conscious of is not to tie a child’s worth too closely to results-based success. Rather than telling kids that “they’re all winners,” remind them that it’s okay to lose. And just because you’re losing, doesn’t mean that they should give up. Instead, focus on praising the effort the child puts forth. By teaching them that trying hard and not giving up is more important than winning, you’ll foster a growth mindset that will serve them into adulthood.
As kids tackle new tasks, from playing a board game to solving a math problem, let them know that it’s okay if they don’t win or get the answer on the first try. Encouraging a growth mindset means teaching them that their effort is just as (or more) important than the outcome. However, we admit that kids get extremely emotional when they lose, making it tempting to reassure them instead of committing to teaching them. But, we’re here to tell you that the extra work is worth it!
Look for learning opportunities.
Kids need to know that solving a hard problem should be challenging. They’ll learn from the process of figuring things out, which is even more important than the actual solution. While sitting at the dinner table, discuss what challenges you faced throughout the day. How did you overcome your obstacles? The more you talk about them together, the more your child will realize that it’s okay to experience struggles. In fact, it’s a natural part of life that we help each other overcome.
Teach them to try multiple methods.
Sometimes in school we’re taught that there’s one right way to get the answer. However, in life, we learn that this is not the case. In truth, just like there are multiple routes to get to your destination, there are several strategies you can take to achieve the same result. For example, long gone is the notion that you must go to college to be successful. It’s now widely recognized that learning a trade is super important. Anyone with the willingness to work hard can start a business, and gaining insight through travel and experience is critical.
Remind them that it’s okay to be wrong.
Even the smartest person isn’t right all the time. If a child believes that they need the right answer or must do the right thing every time, they’re going to spend a lot of their life upset or disappointed. Instead, let them know that life is all about continually learning. Whether it’s a fact about their favorite animal or something they thought was true about a person that they then realize is false, it’s helpful to be able to adapt to life’s many changes.
Encourage them that mistakes are part of growing.
Making mistakes is an inevitable aspect of life. As adults, we know this to be true through years of experience. But for kids, making mistakes can be troubling at first. Depending on your kids’ personality, they want to color inside the lines, create amazing artwork, and follow the rules to a tee. But this type of rigidity isn’t realistic. When a child makes a mistake, praise them for trying and encourage them to try again. Whether they’re learning to play an instrument or to solve a math problem, getting it right takes time, practice, determination, and a positive attitude. The earlier you can pass along these lessons to your little one, the better off they’ll be.
Think creatively to discover innovative ways to help your child achieve a growth mindset. For instance, spending time in nature might show them that, like the trees standing tall against wind, rain, and fires—it’s important to build up your resiliency. Keep in mind, however, that not everything needs to be a learning opportunity. Sometimes kids just need to run around and have fun, and that’s okay, too!
Looking for additional ways to strengthen your parenting skills? Check out our blog on how to become a more mindful parent.