Rereading this passage, I am always humbled as I know that there many times that I have failed in this mission – as a parent, teacher, and coach. This is a great reminder of what is important.
A very powerful excerpt from Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. (Page 205-206)
Grow Your Mindset
Every word and action from parent to child sends a message. Tomorrow, listen to what you say to you kids and tune into the messages you’re sending. Are they messages that say: You have permanent traits and I’m judging them? Or are they messages that say you’re a developing person and I’m interested in your development?
How do you use praise? Remember that praising children’s intelligence or talent, tempting as it is, sends a fixed mindset message. It makes their confidence and motivation more fragile. Instead, try to focus on the processes they used their strategies, effort, or choices. Practice working the process praise into your interactions with your children.
Watch and listen to yourself carefully when your child messes up. Remember that constructive criticism is feedback that helps the child understand how to FIX something. It’s not feedback that labels or simply excuses the child. At the end of each day, write, down the constructive criticism (and process praise) you’ve given your kids.
Parents often set goals their children can work toward. Remember that having innate talent is not a goal. Expanding skills and knowledge is. Pay careful attention to the goals you set for your children.
If you’re a teacher, remember that lowering standards doesn’t raise students’ self esteem. But neither does raising standards without giving students ways of reaching them. The growth mindset gives you a way to set high standards and have students reach them. Try presenting topics in a growth framework and giving students process feedback. I think you’ll like what happens.
Do you think of your slower students as kids who will never be able to learn well? Do they think of themselves as permanently dumb? Instead, try to figure out what they don’t understand and what learning strategies they don’t have. Remember that great teachers believe in the growth of talent and intellect, and are fascinated by the process of learning.
Are you a fixed mindset coach? Do you think first and foremost about your record and your reputation? Are you intolerant of mistakes? Do you try and motivate your players through judgement? That may be what’s holding up your athletes.
Try on the growth mindset. Instead of asking for mistake free games, ask for full commitment and full effort. Instead of judging the players, give them respect and the coaching they need to develop.
As parents, teachers, and coaches, our mission is developing people’s potential. Let’s use all the lessons of the growth mindset – and whatever else we can – to do this.