How to help your child build resilience
Resilience Training. It’s the start of the year, and I’ve started to think about the new school year and building resilience. The new school year offers a lot of hope and new opportunities for children, the chance to see their friends again, make new friends and learn lots of new things.
It’s a good time to reflect on how your child went at school last year, think about their approach to learning and plan for this year.
I’ve found that some children do really well with easy tasks and then lose motivation when they start to face more difficult tasks or when they make mistakes. They may say “I can’t do it” without even trying. Likewise, when they lose a game, they give up and walk away. Children like this may have what Carol Dweck (2012) describes as a “fixed mindset”. That is, they believe that their basic abilities, intelligence, and talents are fixed traits.
Fortunately, it is possible to help children learn to be more resilient and have more of a growth mindset, where they believe that their abilities and talents can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence.
It can take time for a child to change from having a fixed mindset to having a growth mindset but as parents, we can help bit by bit.
Here are my four top tips to help your child to develop a growth mindset:
- Start paying attention to what you are saying to your child. Try to give them the message “You’re a developing person and I’m interested in how you’re going” rather than the message that they have permanent traits and that you’re judging them. An example of the later would be telling your child “You’re brilliant” after they’ve performed well at something.
- Try to praise your child by focusing on the process that they have used – their strategies, effort or choices – rather than praising their intelligence or talent. For instance, it is better to say “You’ve been training really hard and your improvement shows it. You have been practicing jumps and have increased the height that you can jump with your horse. Keep going!” than “You’re such a talented horse rider”.
- Ask your child to give full commitment and effort, rather than achieving a specific outcome (such as not making any mistakes or passing a music grade exam).
- If your child struggles with something, let him or her know that their frustration and disappointment is understandable. Then, give them some constructive feedback so that they know what to focus on in order to help them improve. Also, try to be positive – let your child know that it is good to face some challenges as it helps you to learn.
If you start to notice your child is developing a ‘fixed mindset’ try out some of these tips. I would love to hear some feedback about any changes you notice. We enjoy resilience training as part of our anxiety programs for children.
by Belinda Sun, Clinical Psychologist, Mindworx Psychology