Do you want your children to be the ones who easily give up when assignments get difficult… or do you hope they’ll have the confidence and grit required to keep going when the going gets tough?
What’s going to best prepare them for tomorrow’s extremely competitive workforce? Will it be high grades because they only took the easier classes… or will it be somewhat lower grades earned by finishing a more challenging course of study?
What’s most important: stellar grades or solid perseverance and skills?
As this school year begins, let’s give our kids the gift of seeing that satisfaction and growth come from facing challenges.
• Focus on the strains rather than the brains
Instead of praising, “You are so bright,” notice their successes and ask, “How did you do that?”
• Help them blame their success on effort and perseverance.
Most kids will respond to “How did you do that?” with “I don’t know.” When this happens, ask a question: “Did you work hard or did you keep trying?”
Both of the options embedded in this question point directly to strains… not brains.
• Avoid placing them on a pedestal.
Capable kids often get so much positive feedback about their successes they begin to fear taking risks. It’s as if they think, “If I try something challenging, I might not live up to what everybody thinks about me. I’d better take the easier route.”
• Show them that failure is not final… it’s informative.
Many children develop a perfectionistic orientation by watching their rather perfectionistic parents. I’ve been guilty of this. Sadly, doing so leaves many kids fearful of taking healthy academic risks.
Give your kids… and yourself… a gift. Do your best to laugh about your blunders, while allowing your children to hear you say, “I sure learned a lot from that!”
• Love them unconditionally.
When our kids know that we love them… not what they do… they feel safe to make the mistakes required to become truly exceptional people.
Dr. Charles Fay