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Good morning, Mommy. Failure is learning. Every baby fell before they walked. We help our children when we teach them to see their failures as insight and growth. This is an important lesson throughout life, and crucial as they approach Junior High.
In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath describe what they call the growth mindset this way, “We will struggle, we will fail, we will be knocked down-but throughout, we’ll get better, and we’ll succeed in the end.”
The alternative is a “fixed mindset” – (I suck, I am stupid). The fixed mindset is hopeless. The growth mindset is optimistic. The fixed mindset sees every failure as evidence of one’s inferior worth. The growth mindset sees failure as part of the process of getting better.
Everything is hard before it’s easy. Walking, violin, marriage… we give our children a life-long gift when we teach them to embrace a learning curve on the way to success.
In an article describing her book, Mindset, Standford Psychology professor Carol Dweck describes an experiment where they taught two groups of students in an effort to see what would improve their school performance. One group was taught traditional study skills, the other group was taught the growth mindset, they were taught that the brain is like a muscle and you can get better, smarter with work. The growth mindset group had massively better results.
What does this sound like when talking to a kid? “That’s okay, honey, everyone falls down when they are learning to ride a bike. Next time, you’ll be better. What did you learn this time?” or “62% on your math exam? Ouch, I’m sure that doesn’t feel good. So you haven’t learned the material yet, how can you approach studying differently to crack this code? Would you like to meet with the teacher to talk it through one-on-one? I know you’ll get it with a little more work.” or “I’m not worried that it didn’t work out yet, what did you learn? Will you try it differently next time?”
Check out the movie, “Meet the Robinson’s”. It’s a quirky little tale that includes a lesson on the importance of embracing failure as a step on the road to success.
The gift we give our children (and ourselves) when we teach a growth mindset is the gift of possibility.