First, we need to ensure that they keep growing.
Growth promotes growth. When a child gains a new skill or discovers something new, they get excited, grow in confidence, and continue growing.
Some kids are naturally inclined with a nature that is willing to face challenges and grow.
In addition, some refuse age appropriate limits and create considerable angst for their parents as a result. Will, my two year old grandson is one of these kids who prefers to experience life head on – regardless of the risk involved. He wants to “do it myself” like his older sister and brother. He has no fear of getting hurt or fear of failing. He will jump right in and attempt things well beyond his years. A few weeks ago, he quietly disappeared- never a good sign! He had located the keys to their Expedition, opened the heavy door, climbed up into the seat, put the key into the ignition and had the engine running. The garage door was open and the two year old was trying to put the car in gear when his parents found him! Motivating him to try new things will likely not be an issue as he has a built in “nothing is impossible” mindset. Will however needs wise boundaries, faithfully set and enforced, so that his unbound energy can be directed productively – and safely.
What makes a child quit growing and become complacent instead?
Mostly it has to do with their mindset – how the challenge of growth is viewed from within.
Will’s six year old cousin Jude is more hesitant by nature. Behind his cautiousness is the same insatiable desire to learn, but if risk is a factor in the process, fear holds him back. The thought of getting hurt or failing gets in the way of trying, making him come up with all sorts of reasons why he shouldn’t even begin. His parents have enrolled him in activities that force him to confront his fears and grow – activities such as soccer, basketball and swim lessons. And it’s working. As his skills grow, so does his confidence and resilience. A year ago, he strongly resisted putting his face in the water. Now he swims the length of the pool with ease. He is growing and changing.
This past weekend was Jude’s turn to learn how to ride a bike without training wheels and I am the designated family bike riding teacher. At first his focus was on trying not to get hurt. Each time I let go, he would panic, give up control of the bike and flail to the ground. I wanted to let him quit. Watching your grandson fall and get hurt is tough on a grandmother’s heart! But I knew deep inside that he needed to learn how to ride his bike, not only to confront his fears but also because it would get him excited about riding. Eventually, with firm expectations and no way out, he succeeded and returned home proud not only of his achievement, but also of the wounds he suffered along the way. I am confident this new found skill will transfer to growth in other areas as well.
Jude is learning that trying something risky can actually be very worthwhile, a lesson that will help him reach greater heights in the future rather than settling for less. Growth can be hard. Not growing is the easy option and it promotes a complacent “I don’t care” mindset.
For more on this topic, click on these previous blogs on the book Mindsets by Carol Dweck: Mindset Part I & Mindset Part II
Next week: how perfectionism keeps a child from growing!
How about you? Are you growing in someway or have you grown disinterested in general?
I naively looked forward to a life of leisure after my own kids were grown. I envisioned life slowing down and becoming easy. Instead God planted me at Veritas Academy right in the beginning phases. Being a part of new school development includes continual challenges and I can think of many days, particularly in the first few years, that I wanted to quit. Yet I am still at it after nine years! Why? Because growth in the school, and growth within me as a result of these challenges, is invigorating! I often wonder how different my life would be had I succumbed to the desire to quit! It would have been easy to do but I am very grateful to continue to be a part of Veritas Academy today.
Think about something you are most proud of in your own life.
Likely it involved challenge – or still does. Perhaps you considered giving up assuming it was not worth the effort required. Maybe it’s a degree or a career you really had to work at to accomplish. Perhaps it’s a relationship that had broken down and needed your hard work and energy. Maybe it was a major move God was asking you to make. As you look back, you realize how different things would be if you had actually taken the easy way out.