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Friendship Corner with Laura Macfarlane

Date: March 6, 2011 Author: admin Categories: Parent Updates, Tips

During the month of February, the Brittan Acres community focused on the lifeskill of effort – doing your best.

Significant research and writing has been done on the topic of encouraging effort in children and helping them develop a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. According to Carol Dweck, Ph.D of Stanford University, “Mindsets are beliefs individuals hold about their most basic qualities and abilities. In a Growth Mindset, people believe they can develop their brain, abilities, and talent. This view creates a love for learning, a drive for growth and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishments. On the contrary, people with a Fixed Mindset believe their basic qualities, such as intelligence and abilities are fixed, and can’t be developed. They also believe that talent alone creates success, and see effort as a sign of weakness rather than as a positive element of life needed to reach one’s full potential.” This diagram shows how people with a Growth Mindset vs. a Fixed Mindset behave in different situations.

Parents play an important role in promoting the development of effort. Here are some of the ways that you can be instrumental in fostering this lifeskill.

  • Instead of giving children rewards and bribes, parents can encourage their efforts. Encouragement, is non-judgmental, and emphasizes the child’s importance by expressing confidence and trust in the child. For example, when a child is learning to ride a bike, what she needs is encouragement, someone to help her up if she needs it and to tell her, “I know you can do it. Try again.” Encouragement inspires. It imparts courage and confidence to a child as they develop their sense of self. It enhances internal motivation. – Barbara Coloroso, Kids Are Worth It, 1994.
  • “Teach children that skills and achievement come through commitment and effort.” – Dr. Carol Dweck, MindSet, 2007
  • “Reassuring children about their talents or intelligence backfires. They’ll only be more afraid to show a deficiency.” –  Dr. Carol Dweck, MindSet, 2007

Books for parents and educators:

Mindset by Carol Dweck

How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The inverse power of praise by Po Bronson, New York Magazine, Feb 11, 2007

Books for children that illustrate and promote effort:

The Alphabet Wars: A Story About Dyslexia by Diane Burton Robb

Mr. George Baker by Amy Hest

The Bee Season by Patricia Polacco

Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Thank you for supporting your child’s social and emotional development.

Laura Macfarlane, PPSC, MSW