One Little Change in How You Talk to Your Kids Can Help Them Be More Successful

When expecting a child, many parents read books about all the things that can happen during pregnancy, about how to raise a child, how to ensure they’re healthy and safe, and so on.

But few of these books will tell you about one simple thing you can do as part of your child’s upbringing that will help them be successful in the future.

Dr. Carol Dweck claims that a person’s successful future depends on what type of thinking they develop in childhood: a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

A fixed mindset refers to the idea that our personality, intellect, and creative abilities are static and given to us by nature.

A growth mindset is possessed by those who aren’t afraid to confront problems, or who see defeat not as proof of their stupidity, but as a springboard for development and new opportunities.

A person’s career, relationships, and ultimately their ability to be happy depends on what kind of thinking forms in their head from early childhood onwards.

Here are a few simple examples of the difference between the two ways of thinking. A child should be praised not for their talent, but for their ability to learn.

When your child reads to you:

  • FIXED MINDSET: ’You are so smart!’
  • GROWTH MINDSET: ’You worked so hard to learn how to do that, and now you can! Congratulations!’

When your child assembles a jigsaw quickly:

  • FIXED MINDSET: ’What a smart kid!’
  • GROWTH MINDSET: ’I’m sorry I wasted your time with an easy puzzle — let me find another one that will give us a bigger challenge. I know we can do it!’

When your child does well in a test:

  • FIXED MINDSET: ’You got 80% on your test? Well done!’
  • GROWTH MINDSET: ’You got 80% on your test; that means you are well on your way to knowing this stuff! If you review the ones you missed and take the test again tomorrow, I bet you’ll get closer to 100%.’ one little change 1© Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr  

The difference in the two ways of communicating is very subtle, but the differing influences they can have on a child’s future can be huge.

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