By Anne Mead
Helping develop your child’s growth mindset is instrumental to having your child acquire the skills needed to be an achieved problem solver, and to overcome and embrace challenges. People who have a growth mindset use phrases such as, “Mistakes help me to improve” and “I’ll use some of the strategies I have to conquer this problem.” What can parents do to increase their children’s growth mindset? Acquiring a growth mindset is a process; it takes time and persistence to change attitudes. Think of our brain as a muscle that gets fit as we use it in different ways. We have to remember that our intelligence is not fixed but rather it can grow.
First, praise your child about the process they used. Instead of saying “good job,” say, “I see that you used many different ways to fix that.” If your child is becoming frustrated in not being able to find the right colored block while building a pattern say, “What else might you do to find the right color?” You might suggest they dump the container of blocks into a dish or slant the container to find one. Once the child accomplishes the task, comment on it by saying, “You worked really hard to find the right colors for the patterns.” In this example, the child is learning problem-solving skills that can be replicated during other issues and is also learning persistence.
Second, have conversations with your child on potential solutions to problems. Breaking down the problem into smaller pieces makes it seem easier and encourages the child to come up with different solutions for each part. This strategy helps children to overcome frustration and gives them valuable skills for future problem solving.
Third, use what your child already knows and connect it to the problem. If your child is proficient in flying a kite and chooses to make their own, help the child to think about the parts of a kite and how they could create similar parts. Using this process aids students in remembering what they know and linking it to a new process.
Fourth, connect with your child’s feelings. While children may be disappointed with not being able to accomplish a task at first, helping them to overcome it builds resiliency and empowers them to tackle harder problems. Make a point of talking with your child on how they felt before and after they overcame the task.
Fifth, practice makes perfect! You and your child may have to practice new strategies several times until they become embedded in the child’s brain schema. Encourage your child to try again through words of encouragement until it becomes common practice.
These strategies benefit and build your child’s toolbox of problem-solving strategies and increase their knowledge. Possessing these skills is foundational for children to be ready for school, to face the rigors of 21st-century learning and to be successful in school.
Anne E. Mead, M. Ed. is the administrator for the Early Childhood Education and Extended Learning Programs of the Danbury Public Schools. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact her at 203-830-6508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.