coaching, homework, learning and remembering, resilient children

How does your child perceive their own intelligence?


Intelligence: Does your child believe that it is fixed at birth or that it is something that can grow?

negotiating homework with your teen

Carol Dweck, a leading researcher in the field of motivation, has found that children hold either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset when they think about their own and others intelligence. Have you heard your child say, “Oh she is just smarter than me,” or “I’m dumber than them”? Those with a fixed mindset believe that their basic talents and abilities are decided at birth and that they have a certain amount of intelligence or talent, and that’s that and can’t be changed. This is the mindset that saps children’s motivation and stunts their mind because they don’t see the point in persisting in learning things that they find difficult.

In contrast, those who have a growth mindset believe that their most basic talents and abilities can be developed through practice, learning and support from others. They tend to work harder and ask for help. They are more likely to say, “I’m going to practise that until I get it,” or “I don’t get this and can you help me?”They understand that even a genius like Einstein needed to put in years and years of dedicated study to make his discoveries. They are not afraid of using trial and error to figure something out and they often get a buzz out of new challenges.

Any learning develops new pathways in the brain. However, what is interesting is that our children might indeed believe that if they practise hard they can continue to develop skills in many games and sports such as skateboarding, basketball, and computer and board games, but not believe that a similar amount of effort and good coaching will mean they can also develop skills in areas such as Maths, Science, and English. However, if you believe that any learning is growing the brain’s pathways, you can convince your children that effort and good learning strategies will mean that they can also learn academic subjects that they thought were impossible to master.

Professor Carol Dweck  makes the point that many of us who think we’re doing the right thing by our children when we tell them they’re little geniuses and champions may be actually hindering more than helping them. It is better to praise them for the determination, effort, and clever strategies they are using when they are mastering new skills.

Here’s why:

1. Kids with a fixed mindset only care about looking smart and therefore avoid challenging learning tasks. Kids with a growth mindset and who therefore don’t have anything to prove, tackle challenging learning tasks with gusto.

2. Kids with a fixed mindset believe if you have to make an effort it means you’re not smart. Kids with a growth mindset understand that hard work and practice make you smarter.

3. Kids with a fixed mindset regard setbacks as failings. Kids with a growth mindset regard setbacks as a natural part of learning.

Dweck says these results explain why so many children with a fixed mindset give up, run away, and become defensive. She says that when we see our children acting bored, or acting out, or blaming the teacher, it’s often because they are trying to hide the fixed mindset fear of not looking smart. When we praise intelligence  we tend to create a fixed mindset in our children but if we praise process (effort, strategies, focus and persistence) we are more likely to create a growth mindset in them.

Ways to help your child believe they can grow their intelligence

The good news is it is possible to teach a growth mindset to our children. We can help them realise that every time they push out of their comfort zone and learn something difficult and new, they grow new neural connections. I know how excited and empowered I felt when I realised that the brain can be developed just like a muscle!

Carol Dweck believes that it is a basic human right for children to live in environments that help them grow their abilities and fulfill their potential. The manual Coaching your children to be excellent students   and my posts have straightforward tips which help you develop such a learning environment at home so that your children will believe in themselves as students and grow their own ability to learn.

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails.

Warmly,

Anne

 

 

 

coaching, homework, resilient children, teens, Working with teens

Building resiliency in our children


 

Resiliency is what we have needed to survive and thrive in the adult world. Resiliency is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, and the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity. When you look around at people you know, you may have noticed that adults who have very little resiliency often don’t handle life’s knocks well at all. They often react in one or more of the following ways when they meet hard times. They don’t experience difficulties as learning opportunities or as something they can weather and recover from, they blame others and situations for choices they have made, and they often need a lot of support from others. We all know people who to some degree are unable, or have become unable, to completely stand on their own two feet and make their way in the world. Some of them may continue to create worry and chaos around them and cause pain to others throughout their lives.

We don’t want our children to be adults who have very little resiliency. We want our children to bounce back from difficult situations and to be able to adapt to new  circumstances. In their future, which will be very different from our time as young adults as ours has been from our parents’ time, resilience will continue to be one of the main characteristics defining who thrives in a changing world and who doesn’t.

How are you developing resilience in your children?

Everyone does it differently, but there is always more that we can do. Often we view our children as people who are a little fragile, need lots of protection, and can’t cope without our support. Perhaps there are good and valid reasons for having these opinions. However believing our children are weak and fragile creatures will not help them grow up into resilient children. The most important thing we can change is to strongly believe that our children can develop resilience, and are in fact already more resilient than we might realise.

Before our children can believe in themselves, we have to believe in them.

We need to change how we think about our children because actually when we are completely honest with ourselves, this is a very disrespectful way to think about them, and absolutely does not encourage them to grow resilience. When we change how we view our children we give them the chance to change. For example we could decide to view them as children who are capable of change; who can learn faster than we believed, are more resilient than we realised, and are better problem-solvers than we thought.

Tips:

  • Sometimes we protect our children so much that they might not get to learn from their mistakes. Give them many opportunities to take manageable risks.
  • Often our children’s time today is planned so that they have little down-time, where they are left to their own devices to play alone, read, do nothing, or dream. Quiet, unplanned time where they are not entertained and have to entertain themselves is respite from their busy world and gives them a chance to recharge.  They might complain at first that they feel bored. Just back off and let them sort themselves.
  • These days children are often socialising and playing on devices, and not out running around and expending energy. Exercise helps us all let go of stresses so that we can continue to handle the challenges in our lives. You can limit social media each day, and create situations where they are often exercising.
  • If our children are afraid to take risks, often crumble when there are difficulties, and  won’t attempt anything that isn’t relatively easy for them to do, they don’t develop resilience. You can help them by showing them how to change difficulties into opportunities. For example, you can show them how to use a negative or sad situation to be grateful for what they have already, .or to learn from.
  • Homework, or regular practice of what is taught in the classroom is useful to develop their resilience at school. If they don’t easily recall basic information such as tables, addition and subtraction facts, and basic spelling and reading rules and words, they will find more complex tasks difficult to master.

The good news is that there is good information on the net on how resilience to a large extent can be learnt. As parents, it is our job to help our children learn the skills necessary to develop resilience. Every year your children grow older provides new opportunities for you to help them grow into the adults you know they have the potential to be.

I’m working in partnership with you the reader and I like to know what you are thinking! Please feel free to write your thoughts, questions, and comments at the bottom of this page. 

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Warmly,

Anne