Two fundamental beliefs we should be passing on to our children.
How familiar are you with the term growth mindset? Thanks to recent positive psychology and some incredible books being published recently we can now hear the term growth mindset everywhere. Put simply, a growth mindset is the belief of an individual that they can overcome problems and learn to be better. These two core beliefs are the central drive in success based on happiness studies.
“I believe that I can overcome a problem.”
This first core belief is an integral part of a child’s growing up. Something we see with young children is their struggle to overcome a challenge.
When a young brain experiences something that’s not going their way or is unexpected their brain goes into reactive mode. These heightened emotions triggered in the mid brain during a stressor make judgement cloudy and amplify problem areas. It is the main function of your central nervous system to keep us safe and out of reach of danger. However our brains can act against us by amplifying the problem before us and sending a message of avoidance.
You should avoid this challenge because you might fail.
How often have you heard this statement from your brain? It’s this draw to “safety” that interrupts our ability to believe that we can in fact solve and overcome our problems.
It’s when we learn from a young age to embrace this message that our brain is sending us to avoid risk and to avoid harm that we become infiltrated with a fixed mindset. The brain is drawn to easy. Easy usually means safety. Your brain will avoid risk. It will avoid problems in order to maintain this illusion of safety.
The secret to success is failure.
A lot of failure!
But how do we teach this to children? How can we expect our kids to bounce back, try again or reach for the stars when it can hurt so badly when they fail??
The answer is that it’s a process. None of us wake one morning with a positive, growth mindset. It takes practice and intention. But, it IS possible.
The second core belief that boosts a healthy, growth mindset is:
“I believe I can learn to get better at something.”
Learning a new skill from scratch can be really hard. There’s a lot of steps involved, there’s a lot of practice involved and there’s a lot of mistakes made along the way. That’s the process of learning. Embracing the belief that an individual is able to learn and to do better at things they are interested in requires them to go through all these hoops every time they want to take on a new activity or skill.
These two core beliefs that push forward your growth mindset do not come naturally. They require a decision. They require you to take that intentional step and say, “I choose to believe that I can get through this challenge and I can learn from it.” It’s our ability to choose to believe that makes anything possible.
Everything becomes fixable and reachable when we believe these two fundamental stories to our self.
When we feel overwhelmed or afraid of failure it’s our ability to say to ourselves, “I believe that I can overcome this and I can find a better way forward.” that leads us to finding the answer we need in order to do so.
If you don’t believe that you can figure it out then you don’t have any (what psychologists refer to as) expectancy and you won’t begin the journey forward. When you believe that you can figure it out and you can do better then you will begin.
We can all change and we can all grow. It begins here with these two beliefs.
Making these core beliefs is also a process but once we get the hang of it life becomes a lot more enjoyable. Believing that we can change and grow comes from an open mindset.
Often, we go into life believing that we are who we are:
“I’m an introvert therefore I could never have a lot of friends.”
“I’m shorter than my classmates therefore I could never be a good runner.”
Or “I get bad grades therefore I could never learn anything.”
When we fail to listen to ourselves then we fail to hear the message that we are living over and over again every day. These unconscious messages can block new messages from coming in.
Have you ever received a compliment and just shook it off? You didn’t take it seriously because you didn’t believe it yourself. This is another way that we can unconsciously block new ideas of ourselves.
A growth mindset requires an open mindset. At some point we have to let go of what we believe about ourselves and be open to change and growth.
One way to practice an open mindset with your family is to initiate conversations around what we believe about ourselves. Raising self awareness is always a necessary place to begin. Ask your child to tell you about themselves often and listen for any common threads.
Do you notice any closed mindset remarks?
Do you hear any of your own fears or worries coming through your child?
This is where you can make a mental note of how your beliefs are passed on to your children. Being aware of how we talk about ourselves puts us in the best position to lead by example.
Next, we can incorporate table top activities targeting our previous discussions. Ask each child to share some things they are good at and some things they are not so good at. With their “not so good” list add the word YET at the end. Read aloud with your child, “I’m not so good at soccer, YET.”
This mindset practice is powerful and can be practiced easily in conversations and table top activities daily. Grab a free download and begin today!
About the author
Stephanie Wicker is a child behaviour expert, parenting educator, counsellor and speaker - who has successfully guided families through early childhood for over 15 years. Through her experience with private consultancy, as a preschool teacher and special needs therapist - she has worked across the many facets of early childhood behaviour.
Stephanie's evidence-based programs are grounded in behaviour science and her passion for Relational Frame Theory (RFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and developmental psychology all play a big role in her programs.
Stephanie’s experience covers early intensive behaviour intervention programs for children with special needs and for families newly diagnosed. She hosts live training events all over Australia, where she shares her practical solutions and language techniques, along with providing private, in-home therapy sessions for those seeking more personalised support.
Through her company, Simply Kids she provides family resources such as digital books and educational activities, designed to keep behaviour simple.
"By helping parents place emphasis on connection, empowerment and encouragement, I believe that all children have the ability to reach their full potential." - Stephanie Wicker