• Research shows that parents can have a powerful impact on their childrens’ mindsets. The language you use and the actions you take show your children about what you expect. Giving process praise, talking about the brain, accepting mistakes as learning opportunities, and understanding the role of emotions in learning are all practices you can begin today.

    Say This, Not That

    The way we praise our children can have a profound impact on their mindset. Research on praise and mindsets shows that when we praise children for being smart, it promotes a fixed mindset. It sends a message that their accomplishments are trait-based, and tied to something innate. In contrast, praising kids for working hard promotes a growth mindset. It sends a message that the child’s effort is what led them to success. Want more tips on what to say, and what not to say, when praising your kids? Say This, Not That!

     

    Say This 
    “I can see you worked so hard on this!”
     
    “It seems like it’s time to try a new strategy.”
     
     
     “It looks like that was too easy for you. Let’s find you something challenging so your brain can grow.”
     
    “That’s not right. You don’t understand this yet. What strategies can you try to understand it better?”
     
    “That was really hard. Your effort has paid off! Next time you’ll be ready for this kind of challenge!”
     
    “You’ve worked hard to become a good writer. You should challenge yourself with an advanced class, and learn something you don’t know how to do yet.”
     
    Not This
    “You are so smart!”  *This indicates that intelligence is fixed.
     
    “You're a natural at that!”   *Children believe they don't have the ability to improve areas that don't come naturally.
     
    “That’s right! You did that so quickly and easily; great job!”   *Children associate effort as a negative quality.
     
    “That’s not right. Are you paying attention in class? It seems like you’re not even trying.“  
     
    “That was really hard. I’m so glad it’s over and you don’t have to do that again.”  *Encouraging children to look forward to and accept challenges is crucial for a growth mindset.
     
    “You have a real talent for writing. You should take a creative writing class because you’re so good at it.”  *Encourage your child to take risks with things they may not have a natural talent for.
     

    Talk About the Brain

    The brain is far more malleable than we once thought. Teaching our kids that they actually have control over growing their brains through the actions they take is empowering! Tell your children that when they work hard, that’s the feeling of their neurons connecting. The dendrites are reaching out to other dendrites, trying to connect to make a stronger brain. What strengthens those connections is practice, asking questions, and actively participating in learning. When children learn that their brains physically change with effort, it leads to increased motivation and achievement. Show your kids this Brain Animation video to explain! 

    Accept Mistakes as Learning Opportunities

    One of the best ways you can model a growth mindset is to speak candidly about the mistakes you’ve made, and what you’ve learned from them. Speak positively about your mistakes and struggles, and this will show your children that taking risks and making mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. Explain to your children that trying hard things is what helps us grow, and you can’t be perfect when you try something hard!

    Understand the Role of Emotions in Learning

    When we get angry, scared, or feel threatened, our fight or flight response is activated. This can happen anytime, whether we’re scared of a spider or scared of math! Our brains are wired to protect us when we feel threatened, and stress symptoms such as sweating, stomach cramps, and your mind going blank are completely normal. There are strategies we can use when the fight or flight response tries to take over, to help us learn. One of those strategies is called Square Breathing and it helps to break down the adrenaline that is flooding the bloodstream and preventing learning from occurring.