I sat in the pick-up line at school, jamming to The Weekend. The sky was a perfect blue, dotted with the kind of fluffy white clouds that are just right for daydreaming. It was the kind of day that was made for after-school frolicking, and I made sure that our afternoon was free to do just that.
As I watched my daughter march to the car, the big smile on my face froze and became fixed.
Our plans of blowing off steam outdoors were already swirling round and round and down into a drain of what was sure to be a “poop storm.”
“How was your day?” I asked when she climbed into the back seat.
“Good,” she barked. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
And we spent the entire drive home in silence while I tried to simultaneously let her have peace and decipher what exactly went wrong in her day.
I pieced all of the clues together to find out that she had made several mistakes on different assignments. Mistakes she doesn’t normally make because she is a perfectionist who works incredibly hard by her own design. And because she is already her own worst critic, those minor mistakes ruined her day and put a dent in her confidence.
Before I stumbled upon the new and trending concept of growth mindset, I would encourage my daughter to keep trying. That it’s ok to make mistakes. My husband supported this by telling her stories of great inventors who failed many many times before succeeding in their inventions. Her teacher uses the motto, “You’re still cool,” for any mistake that is made in the classroom at all.
She is surrounded by adults who encourage her and want her to succeed. But it’s not enough. The perfectionist voice in her head is louder than our voices combined. And so, I am finding a way to be heard over her voice – through growth mindset activities.
If you’re not familiar with the term, growth mindset is a philosophy that our brains are ever-changing and ever-growing through positive self-talk, hard work, and a good attitude.
In contrast, a fixed mindset is that we are all born with certain abilities and are stuck with what we have.
Growth mindset attitudes say, “What can I learn from this mistake so that I can try again next time?”
Fixed mindset attitudes say, “I made a mistake. I can’t do this.”
In my opinion, a growth mindset is a fancy way of having a “Can Do” attitude, or being a part of a “Yes Household” (Remember these phrases growing up?).
Growth mindset shows people that change is good; that mistakes are actually a good way to learn; that your best effort is enough; and that negative thoughts limit you. Because I could use a few growth mindset strategies of my own, our household has started journaling and reading books that encourage growth.
You can Pinterest your way to several printable activities to help you and your child tap into growth mindset living, or check out some of the following books and journals that we are currently using:
- Learn, Grow, Succeed (Brandy Thompson)
This journal addresses how we can combat worries and negative self-talk. It encourages accepting feedback, learning from mistakes, etc. Currently, my daughter and I fill the entries in together, but older children could do this on their own.
This journal has coloring pages, word searches, and basic entries with prompts for things the reader is thankful for, how they show gratitude, and what their current mood is. Each entry is engaging, short, and sweet for early elementary ages and encourages positive self-talk.
- Grow Your Mind: Don’t Panic! (Alice Harman)
The Grow Your Mind series has eight books that focus on all aspects of Growth Mindset living. This book focuses on working through panic when trying new things or when worrying about something.
If you have had success with other growth mindset resources, please share your experiences in the comments.