Ask Dr. Jean: Supporting Children through Challenges

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(Arti Freeman) #1

Dear Dr. Jean,

Our children are healthy and intelligent but give up easily when they find something difficult (swimming; handwriting; etc). What can we do to support them so they will begin to challenge themselves and take on difficult tasks?

Anonymous (Parent / Caregiver)


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(Dr. Jean Clinton) #2

Dear Anon,

What the literature is suggesting is that we help our children develop a “Growth Mind Set”, Carol Dweck has written a great book on this with this title. She is suggesting that children today are growing up being told how great and how smart they are and inadvertently are also fearing that if something is hard it’s maybe because they aren’t as smart or as good as everybody thinks. She suggests we acknowledge children’s efforts rather than their smarts e.g.“ You worked really hard on that, even when it was tough. How do you feel about it?” Rather than “great job, you were awesome”. Be specific and concrete in acknowledging what they did well and how they can improve.

Unfortunately our kids too often become ‘praise junkies’ looking for external reinforcement and rewards, The good news is that using a growth mindset lens you are learning and your brain is growing when you try hard to help change this.