The more people I coach and deliver Mindset sessions to, the more I see the impact that parents can have on their children's lives, without even realising it, especially with regard to their mindset. As parents we have such a huge responsibility to support our children to ensure they are happy and to help them be what they want to be and achieve all that they want to achieve. To do this we need to be fully aware of how we are communicating, not only to them but to others while in their earshot. We need to be considering the language we are using and whether we are thinking with a GROWTH Mindset (the idea that intelligence can be developed rather than it being set in stone) or a FIXED Mindset (the belief that qualities are fixed traits and therefore cannot change). It really can make a difference.
I am constantly aware of how I speak around my own children (age 15 and 13) and I try to be as positive as I can but I am by no means perfect and I often slip up. Recently while on holiday with the family I felt a moment of pride as my son picked up on something quite important. Let me set the scene. We were driving to the Alps for a week of skiing with friends. It started well (albeit quite early on the Saturday morning) but part way through the journey we broke down! It was a pain but what I noticed quite early on was that no-one was moaning about it. I remained upbeat and the kids recognised that nothing could be done about it - we needed to remain positive and view it as an adventure, even at 8pm (7 hours since breaking down) when we were sitting with all of our bags on a roadside waiting for a taxi). Anyway the real moment of pride came while on the slopes. I used to snowboard and I would say that I am a better snowboarder than a skier however, several years ago I went back onto skis but while I am trying to improve both of my kids have got so much better than me - they literally leave me for dust on the slopes. I had to dig deep many times and find my positive mindset to get down some of the trickier slopes that others found pretty easy. I must have shown my lack of positivity on a number of occasions as my son then pointed out "Mum, you always make everyone else feel positive about what they are doing but you can't always do it for yourself." It really made me reflect on how my actions and words can impact my children and how much they take on board. It also made me smile that he had noticed this.
Do you ever consider the language you are using in front of your own children? Do they hear you being positive, with a feeling that you can achieve what you put your mind to or do they see and hear fear at the thought of trying something new? It is worth considering because it will most likely have an impact on them moving forward. Have you ever said about one of your children, 'he is the practical one' or 'he is the academic one'? If you have, you are thinking with the fixed Mindset and that is what your child is hearing.
Starting today, notice the language you use around your children. Become aware of how positive it is? With the growth mindset in place you can develop your own abilities while supporting your children to develop theirs too. Children who grow up with a growth mindset are stronger, more resilient, have more positivity and develop a positive relationship with failure. Children who grow up with a growth mindset don't use the word CAN'T, they say 'I can't, YET'.
So what changes are you going to make today to be more of a growth mindset parent?
If you want to learn more about the impact the Mindset can have, read Carol Dweck's 'Mindset'.