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Responding to Shape Mindsets

By Kristin Lyle

Imagine that a young boy is playing left field and drops an easy pop fly. Let us suppose he says he did so because "the sun was in my eyes," "a bee was near me," "the grass was slippery," "a fan yelled and distracted me," etc. The response by the parent is typically to console and empathize with the child’s situation. But when we parents focus on the outcome, we encourage a pattern of accepting insecurities through excuses. We just encouraged a fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset implies that intelligence is fixed, so if you’re not good at something, you might believe you’ll never be good at it. You have a growth mindset if you believe your intelligence and talents can be developed over time. These are the two mindsets we can navigate life with. The good news is, we can help our children develop a growth mindset in one simple step.

According to Dr. Carol Dweck, leader in motivational studies, one of the best ways you can develop a growth mindset as a parent, is to model it. Share with your children the mistakes you've made, as well as the lessons you've learned from them. By speaking positively about your mistakes and struggles, you show your children that taking risks and making mistakes are a part of the learning process. Tell your child that trying hard things leads to growth, and you cannot be perfect, but you can do your best!

I am that parent of the boy playing left field. My response was, “it’s ok, you’ll get it next time.” Was I encouraging his excuses? What if he doesn’t catch it next time? I should have responded with something positive about how he ran hard towards the ball. Or shared how I was afraid of pop flies when I played softball and how I overcame it, with practice. We all wish we had said or done something differently when responding to our children. It takes time to think about how to respond and sometimes we don't have time to react. However, if we get ahead of our thoughts with a new way of responding, we can encourage our children to have a mind free from insecurities and full of growth that will help them be successful in every endeavor life throws their way.

Get ahead of your responses with some of these, “say this, not that” from Dr. Dweck's Mindset.

For more information on Dr. Dweck's growth mindset visit The Growth Mindset - What is Growth Mindset - Mindset Works

For more tips on how to help your kiddo and yourself through the transitions of life, check out

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