Ready, Set, Grow: Encouraging Adaptability at All Ages

A growth mindset encourages resilience, happiness and success


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Image courtesy of Lorelyn Medina/Shutterstock.com

Let’s face it: Raising kids is hard work. But what if there was a simple way to make parenting easier, your kids happier and your household more harmonious? Turns out, there is. When children develop traits like resilience and adaptability, they’re more peaceful, more open to new ideas and less likely to melt down when they don’t get their way, says Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., authors of The New York Times bestseller “The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child” (2018). Here’s how to make it happen, age-by-age.

 

EARLY YEARS

Shift the Focus

The term “growth mindset” was coined by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck and refers to the understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort. Building a growth mindset — as opposed to a fixed mindset, or the belief that ability is predetermined and can’t be
changed through hard work — is linked to better grades, more resilience and higher levels of achievement. 

Caregivers can begin encouraging a growth mindset in toddlerhood simply by ditching the “good job” habit. This type of reflexive, automatic parental praise seems harmless, but the unintended lesson for children is that a good outcome is the only acceptable one, and that their effort matters less than the results of those efforts. When children focus on outcomes instead of effort, they’ll be less likely to accept failure and less open to the idea that consistent effort creates success.

To shift your focus to a child’s effort, swap phrases that focus on outcomes like “good job” for ones that emphasize effort, like “You worked really hard on that!” and “I can tell you really focused — way to go!”

 

ELEMENTARY YEARS

Breaking Free

Some children seem to easily slip into a growth mindset, while others seem set in the fixed mindset camp — or may fall somewhere in between.

“Signs that a child is using a fixed mindset include only doing things that they’re good at, using the same tools and relying on skills that they know well. A child with a fixed-mindset may be unwilling to try new things or to explore other ways of thinking,” says Nedra Glover Tawwab, a licensed clinical social worker and owner of Kaleidoscope Counseling in Charlotte. 

When a child seems stuck in a fixed mindset, it’s worthwhile to nudge him or her toward a more expansive, growth-oriented perspective, because a fixed mindset can contribute to issues with self-esteem, anxiety and depression, Tawwab says. Encouraging creativity and self-expression, characteristics of a growth mindset, can help a child break out of the “fixed” zone.  

“When a child struggles with a fixed mindset, caregivers can encourage them by celebrating moments where they try something new,” says Kamini Wood, a certified life and resilience coach for girls, teens and young women in Cary. “Reveal the growth to the child. Allow the child to embrace the moment where they tried something outside of the comfort zone.”

 

TEEN YEARS 

Fear Factor

Even if kids reach high school with a fixed mindset, it’s not too late to work toward a more positive, flexible attitude. Help teens learn to recognize and counteract ANTs (automatic negative thinking), Woods says. 

“These types of thoughts occur routinely with a fixed mindset, because the general idea is that you’re either born able to do something, or not,” she says. “So the idea of trying something new and challenging will trigger a ‘no.’”

Often, automatic “no” responses are rooted in a fear of failure, Wood says. “To help uncover the underlying fear, caregivers can ask questions like, ‘Is it true that you could get better at this?’ or ‘Let’s assume that you are able to do this, how would that feel?’ The point is not to convince or force your teen into action, but to allow them to feel their fear while considering a new viewpoint.”

Guiding teens to look past their fear of failure to see the value in trying something challenging — even if they don’t succeed — helps to build resilience that leads to lifelong success. (Learn more about building resiliency in “Letting Your Child Fail” on page 18.)

 

Malia Jacobson is a nationally published health journalist and author of “Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too.” 

 

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August 2020

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Chuck E. Cheese
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Abari Game Bar
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Enjoy music outdoors with the family. Dates: April 28, May 3, May 17, June 7, June 14, July 4, Aug. 2, Aug. 23, Sept. 6 and Sept. 20.

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Davidson Village Green
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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

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Mint Museum Randolph
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Toddlers can enjoy a special jump session every weekday morning. With each child age 6 and younger, an adult may jump for free, not including DefyGravity socks for $3.

Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
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Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road
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This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
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View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Website »

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Cost: $6 for parking

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This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

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Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
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, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Where:
NarroWay Theatre
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Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
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Website »

More information

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Cost: Cost for games

Where:
Abari Game Bar
1721 N. Davidson St.
, NC
View map »


Telephone: 980-430-4587
Website »

More information

Live the story of Stephen and the Apostles. Experience the rousing power of ANNO DOMINI: the year of our Lord while enjoying a Greek dinner.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theater
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
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Website »

More information

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View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

See the original, Broadway-style dinner show, and experience the story of Stephen and the Apostles. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy 51
Fort Mill, SC
View map »


Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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