What Should be Your Child’s Mindset About Success?

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With the start of the new school term every year more teachers come under fire for student progress and development. But student progress is a combination of several aspects of his/her life. Homework is one of these aspects as it is despised by many students and parents alike. And without the direct supervision of a teacher, a parent may sometime force to assist the child in answering questions to complete their assignments. It is often dynamic between independent learning and positive parental attention that can boost the greatest leaps of personal development.

How can we change our mindset?

Will your child continue to try their best or will they be disappointed and stop when they fail again and again?

A psychologist from Stanford University named Carol Dweck has researched extensively on the simple idea of “mindset” and how said idea encourages or obstructs success. Mindset is a special belief of oneself. Dweck, in The New Psychology of Success (2000) developed a continuum on which two ends of ability are distinctly different from each other. People with a fixed mindset on one end see success or lack of success as an implicit trait.  They think that trait cannot be altered over time except that with age. Remember one’s abilities change and therefore success happens to come or not come. On the other end, people with a growth mindset see success as something worked toward, based on learning, hard work and persistence.

In Modern Ideas about Children, some protests the idea that, “an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity”. They encourage ‘practice, training, and method’. And in turn, intelligence can be enhanced alongside attention and judgment. As such, outside of the school setting, homework and the features of its practice are considerable influences.

How the words can play in your child’s mind?

Take this as an example. Let us think Imran is a student, who gets the answers correct 100% of the time in Islamic law (fiqh) and geometry. But he struggles in history and with creating grammatically correct sentences. His math’s teacher compliments Imran,

“Wow! Imran, you are so smart.” For this Imran is under the impression that the only way to be smart I have to score 100%, even in other subjects. His history test paper came back as a 70%. Imran has now lost confidence, is disappointed, and complains to his parents about how much he despises history. Do notice this detrimental chain?

His geometry teacher can instead say “Wow! Imran, you got them all correct! Let’s challenge you on tonight’s assignment!” Now, Imran is aware that math may come easy to him, but compliments aren’t given out because he is smart. Tomorrow, he is ready to persist with that challenging history project without his parents having to listen to how mean his teacher is to him.

Dweck explains that the types of encouragement and words used either help or hinder a child’s view of his/her success. Whilst it is commonly thought that praise is beneficial for an individual’s self-respect and performance. It is harmful to the individual who has been dealt a set of cards different to which he requires for success. Thus, Dweck encourages the use of praise, but only the type of praise which can be controlled by children.

Encourage growth, success will come along

All this research aside, what mindset do you encourage as your child’s first teacher? Are you encouraging your child or student to continue growing even though he has just tried and failed? Or is he smart just because it was completed on the first try? Did they grow through what is normally realized as failure? Or has success become an obstruction toward pushing on?

Carryover this idea of developing a mindset into other situations. Suppose you compliment a little girl on being pretty because of her gorgeous blue eyes or the boy with the dark hair. Then what happens if a child with brown eyes listen this?

The next time when helping your child or student with their homework, consider how your choice of words and interactions can push his/her development and overall mindset.