Best Practices in Parenting

Written by Dr. Debra Carter

The concept of fostering emotional intelligence (EI) in children to maximize their success both academically and in terms of overall well-being has been an emerging topic in education with proven positive results.   Dr. Daniel Goleman helped popularize the concept and identified five key elements in EI: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.  Closely tied to maximizing the positive benefits of having a high EI is having a growth mindset.   In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point.  This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.  A parenting growth mindset involves: giving process praise, talking about the brain, accepting mistakes as learning opportunities, and understanding the role of emotions in learning.  Contrast this with a fixed mindset where students believe their abilities, their intelligence, their talents are just fixed traits.   That can be dangerous because a fixed mindset can often prevent important skill development and growth, which may sabotage your child’s health and happiness.

Research shows that success is often dependent on mindset. The way we praise our children can have a profound impact on their mindset.   Praising children for working hard versus “being smart” sends a message that the child’s effort is what led them to success.  Teaching our kids that they actually have control over growing their brains through the actions they take is empowering.   Speaking positively about your own mistakes and struggles will show your children that taking risks and making mistakes are a natural part of the learning process.  Understanding the role of emotions in learning is another opportunity for parents to model and teach a growth mindset.   Our brains are wired to protect us when we feel threatened or scared and often produces stress symptoms such as sweating, stomach cramps, and having your mind go blank right when you need to take an important test!  There are strategies we can use when our mind’s natural “fight or flight” response tries to take over and prevent us from learning.  Adopting a parenting growth mindset teaches your child that hard work, perseverance, and effort are the keys to success!

How can you, as a parent, help promote a growth mindset in your child?    Take the Parenting Growth Mindset Bull’s Eye quiz (Parenting Growth Mindset Exercise) to learn what a parenting growth mindset involves and see where you are today with your parenting skills and how close or far off you are from your goals.  Then, give yourself the Bull’s Eye Challenge and develop an action plan to help you reach your target or Bull’s Eye!

You will be amazed at the almost instantaneous results in how your children respond when you practice a growth mindset in your parenting.  Good luck and let the team at Carter Psychology Center know if we can help you or your child achieve their best potential!

For more information on this topic, Stanford psychologist Dr. Carol Dweck has done research and written widely on this topic and has a lot of helpful ideas to promote a growth mindset for kids and for parents.