The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Proverbs 13:4

I am teaching Kate and Joey how to play the piano.  Actually, make that just Kate! She listens and practices what I teach her although it is difficult for her tiny fingers to maintain the proper position.  Joey on the other hand wants to be an expert even before he has figured out how little he really knows.  Learning the play the piano takes diligent practice and he prefers to pound away with one finger, pretending that he knows how to play.
Joey wants to believe that natural talent will make him successful without the hard work. Like many other kids today, he wants to look smart and talented rather than develop the skills that lead to actually being so.  He is learning to push through however and gaining new skills.  His parents are “wise” to his way of thinking and are training him to take on a growth mindset instead.
With a new school year starting, my encouragement to parents is to expect a growth mindset from your kids with regard to their school work and extracurricular activities.  If you don’t know what that is, read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, Ph.D; a fascinating study on what motivates kids to learn. In her book, which is based on decades of research, “Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach our goals with a fixed or growth mindset.”
Grade school students who developed a fixed mindset with regard to studies showed marked decline with their grades in their adolescent years.  On the other hand, when they learn that their brain is really a muscle which gets stronger with diligent practice – and then take on a growth mindset –  their academic  performance improves significantly.

A student with a fixed mindset:

  • Is interested only when success comes easily.
  • Assigns blame and make excuses when it doesn’t.
  • Believes that effort is for those who can’t make it on talent.
  • FEARS trying and still failing.
  • Takes on a “low effort syndrome” as the way they protect themselves

A student with a growth mindset:

  • Makes learning is a priority.
  • Meets failure with energy to try harder.
  • Believes that abilities are learned and tasks give you the chance to do that.
  • Is mentally tough.
  • Takes charge of the processes that bring success and maintains them.

The best news is that they can change their mindset!  So can we!

TIPS for this week

Brain is a muscle that needs exercise.  Brain exercises include memory work, concentration, focus, reading, listening intently, solving problems, writing.
Don’t give up just because your child won’t try.  Don’t devalue an activity just because the skills are not present yet.
Don’t lower the bar.  We were created to grow.  Growth is motivating.  Not growing makes one complacent.

More on mindsets next week!