I am a parent of a 18-month-old toddler, and I try my level best to raise him to the best of my capacity. I am sure most parents want the best for their children. Sometimes whatever we think is best for our child, may or may not be it. So let me share with you a small incident that happened the other day. I took my baby boy to the play area and there were few other kids playing. A kid of around 2-2.5 years of age was crying. Probably the mom or the nanny would have stepped aside for a bit may be. Now while this kid was crying, I saw two kids react so differently to that. One kid started making fun of the crying kid saying – hey hey cry cry baby!! That clearly showed that he was being raised by fixed mindset parent as he was judging and labeling the crying baby. Whereas another kid reacted to it by going and asking the kid what happened, tried to comfort him and eventually they started playing. Clearly this kid was being raised by a growth mindset parent. Now I would like to assume that parents of both kids have the best interest at heart for their kids however the one with the fixed mindset may not be aware how the kid is getting affected. And the kids innocently pass the message that they are being raised in a certain way.
Parents have the highest impact on creating the mindset that their kids have, and it starts to get formed from the very early days when they are babies. Parents with Fixed mindset give the message that You are a good child if you share or a bad child if you don’t share or if you listen to me and don’t play with fire you are good otherwise you are bad and so on. The message that they are indirectly giving to the child is that, hey, You have permanent qualities, and I am constantly judging and labeling you. Believe me, that’s what the child takes as the message. The parents with Growth mindset on the other hand could be saying, hey let’s try sharing, that’s a nice thing to do or lets avoid playing with fire, we might get hurt. The message they are giving to their child is that, you are growing person and I am interested in your growth. You are developing person and I am committed towards your development.
Our words impact our children. Our Actions impact our children. If we try to preach or teach something but do otherwise, kids are going to see that. They are such excellent observers. So, whatever you want your child to learn you have to Walk the talk. Lead by example. Now lets take a second to think, What’s the message that you are giving out to your child– Are you Judging and labeling your kid? Or are you developing your kid?
A short incident happened with my nephew. So he was playing with crayons and dropped it by mistake. It got scattered all over the floor. He saw that my brother, his dad noticed that. He immediately got scared and said, Oh my god, I dropped all the crayons, I am so clumsy. My brother said, when you drop crayons, you don’t say that. Then what do we say dad? You just pick up the crayons. And that’s it dad? That’s it. The little boy smiled. Isn’t it that simple? To avoid judging and labeling. To simply do the right thing. That’s how simple its to be.
Lets have a look at Praises and complements. We as parents want to load our kids with lots of praises and complements to build their confidence and self-esteem. And why not? There is nothing wrong with that. But what sorts of praises? What kind of compliments? Are you praising your child’s talent or intelligence? Or are your praising your child’s efforts and trial and processes? When your child scored 100 percent in a quiz do you say – You are smart! Well then what your child interprets from that is that, I am smart because I got that fast or I got that correct. Confidence built on such compliments are so fragile that they can be shattered by criticism. Because tomorrow if your child can’t be that fast or correct he or she may think that I am not smart anymore. What to do then? Probably how you can alternatively praise is– You did some great research and preparation for the quiz and it showed. Congratulations on winning it.
- Instead of You are an excellent dancer, how about – All those long hours of practicing the dance have finally helped you perfect the step. Bravo!
- Instead of You are such a great artist, how about I like how you chose those interesting color combinations and the interesting strokes you did. It’s quite amazing.
In this way you are praising your child’s efforts, practice, persistence, trials. This encourages and motivates them to keep working towards their goals in the long run and build their inner confidence that steady and strong.
Now that’s about Handling success and praising and celebrating. How about handling failure? Failure can be so difficult to be handled by a child. They may already feel disheartened a discouraged. And in such a case the parent needs to drive their thought process in the right direction. If you have raised your child with a fixed mindset, your child may already be scared or afraid to share the news of the failure with you. Because they would assume that you would label them to be a looser or judge them to be bad. Definitely that’s a big no-no. You wouldn’t want your child to be shattered further, right? So, what to do? Should we protect our children from failure? Temporarily we can, but not in the long run. So what would they do then? When your child fails, if you react like I know you are the best. This test is not important. You would pass next time. You are simply protecting your child from failure and comforting your child. But that simply makes your child live in a bubble and doesn’t teach your child how to accept failure and work towards success, So please, Don’t try to protect them from failure.
How about – Hey baby, I know you like that subject. I know you enjoy it. I can understand you must be feeling terrible that you failed. Lets see what went wrong? Do we need to practice more? Do we need some coaching? Lets give it another shot by being better prepared. This time we are going to work on it together. This small little conversation can change everything for your child. There are so many wonderful things you are teaching your child by this. A, you taught your child its okay to fail and we must accept it. B we must retrospect what went wrong and work towards it. C, you are there to support your kid in their growth. D, when we try the next time, we can be successful. See, how wonderful and impactful that growth mindset conscious parenting can be?
Let’s look at Criticism and feedback – Children need honest and constructive feedback. If children are protected from it, they may not learn well. It could also harm their confidence and future. They might feel that negative feedback or coaching or advice are undermining. First of all, lets not confuse labels and negative bashing to be constructive criticism. Only that criticism that can help your child improve and grow is constructive. For example, your child lost the singing competition and you noticed that their pitch is going wrong. So, you tell your child, I saw that you did great with your tone and the tune and the pace, just that particular pitch needs some work. Let’s practice on that and we can win next time.
Parents also need to set the right Goals and ideals for their children. When you raise a child with fixed mindset you might be imposing judgements and putting pressure like you must be a doctor or a lawyer or you must get into Harvard, or you must always get the first position. Such kids then feel it either is that or they have nothing. Whereas when you set goals or ideals with a growth mindset you set those like, whatever you do, give your best, excel in it. Above all, be kind to others. Don’t hurt anybody. Be the best version of yourself and keep improving. Such kids always reach excellent peaks of success as they are continuously putting efforts towards their goals.
Parents can be the best or the worst influence. Don’t give the message to your kids that you love them but only on your own terms. Don’t Judge. Teach. It’s a learning process, for you and your kids. Someday when your kid would grow up you might say “I am amazed at how incredible person my child has turned out to be.” And that’s possible when you raise your child with a growth mindset. I hope this helps parents who want the best for their children in the right way by fostering in their growth, learning and interests.
P.S. This blog is based on several researches. A lot of input are dependent on the book Mindset by (Phd) Carol S Dweck.