Kong Academy | Empowering Kids Through Play

Got A Kid Who’s Easily Discouraged?

Do you have a child who shies away from challenges or avoids trying new things? As a parent, it can be frustrating to see your child miss out on opportunities to grow and learn. But there are ways to help your child develop a Growth Mindset: the belief and knowledge that they can develop and grow any skill. Unlike the fixed mindset, which is the belief that whatever skill we have is the skill we are stuck with, and in turn limits our potential.

Here are three tips to help foster a Growth Mindset in your child:

1. Focus on the “Yet” 🧐

When we overly focus on the present moment and what our children can or cannot do right now, we may unintentionally contribute to a fixed mindset. For example, if you overly focus on test scores and getting the next A, your children may feel discouraged and stuck when they fail. Research shows that children with a fixed mindset are more likely to cheat, avoid challenges, or compare themselves to others in order to feel better about themselves.

Instead, we can help our children develop a Growth Mindset by shifting our focus to the future and using the word “yet.” For instance, rather than saying, “you failed” or “you are not good at xyz”, we can say, “you haven’t mastered it yet” or “you are not good at xyz yet, you need to practice a bit more”. By emphasizing that failure is not permanent and that there is a path forward, we encourage our children to persevere, learn from their mistakes, and believe in their ability to improve. In fact, some schools even use “not yet” as a grade, indicating that there is still room for growth and development.

2. Use Process Praise 🙌

Another way to foster a Growth Mindset in your child is through process praise. Process praise involves focusing on the effort, strategies, and progress that your child has made rather than on their inherent abilities or current performance. For example, instead of saying, “you’re so smart,” which can lead to a fixed mindset, you can say, “I noticed you worked hard on that,” or “I like how you tried different strategies to solve the problem.”

Process praise helps children develop a sense of agency and self-efficacy, as it highlights their effort, perseverance, and problem-solving skills, rather than their innate talents or achievements. It encourages children to value the process of learning, rather than just the outcome, and reinforces the idea that success is a result of hard work and determination.

3. The Hard Thing Challenge 💪

The Hard Thing Challenge is a simple concept that can have a big impact on your family. The challenge has three parts, and every member of the family is encouraged to participate. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Choose one hard thing to do

Each person in the family chooses one hard thing to do. It can’t be something easy (whatever that might be for you). It has to be something that will require effort and determination to accomplish. For example, if you have a basketball player in the family, they might choose to make 20 three-point shots in a row. Or someone might choose to learn a new song on the ukulele or guitar.

Step 2: Don’t quit in the middle

Once you start your hard thing, you can’t quit in the middle. You can quit once you’ve achieved your goal but you have to keep the “learning journey” going even if things get hard (or you get bored or annoyed or lazy or …). The idea is to push yourself to keep going, even when things get tough.

Step 3: You get to choose

The third part of the challenge is that everyone gets to choose what their hard thing is. This gives kids an opportunity to pursue their passions and discover new interests. When kids choose their own hard thing, they’re more willing to put in the effort to succeed.

The benefits of the Hard Thing Challenge go beyond just completing a difficult task. By sticking with something challenging, kids and adults alike can build resilience and develop a Growth Mindset. Plus, when parents participate in the challenge, they can model the behavior they want to see in their kids. Parenting is all about walking the walk and not just talking the talk.

Give the Hard Thing Challenge a try! It’s a fun way to challenge yourself and your family, and you might be surprised at what you can accomplish when you put your mind to it.

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