Throughout the course of our lifetime we are guaranteed to face challenges. Do you know someone who is trying to train for a black belt? Stop smoking? How about someone who has received strict orders from their doctor that they no longer can eat any sugar or meat (insert sad face here) but can only eat beans and greens? Even if life were all roses you’d still need to avoid the thorns.
Many people have bought into a lie that believes they are victims. There are well-meaning therapists who look for the source of their clients unhappiness in a dysfunctional family of origin. Adults are encouraged to explain failures by blaming their parents instead of focusing on how much God has blessed them and focusing on their strengths to move forward.
The good news is that regardless of what happens in life, God is always on the throne. As a parent there are things you can do to teach your child to develop a persevering spirit! By helping them to reframe the meaning of effort and difficulty from “I can’t” to “not yet” your children will learn to look at growth through an entirely new lens.
Dr. Carol Dweck from Stanford University shares some of her research in this video. Her research has revealed that children grow smarter and perform more when you focus on praising their effort vs their intellect. Here are some examples:
- “I like how you keep trying”
- “You’re working so hard!”
- “You’re improving because you’re putting in so much effort!”
When you say, “You’re so smart” you are emphasizing your child’s intelligence which is outside of your child’s control. But when you focusing your praise on their efforts, they will come to see themselves as fully in charge of their success. You see, effort is something that all of us have control over. The research shows that this helps them become hearty and resilient.
Everytime they push past their comfort zone, the neurons in their brain form new, stronger connections, and over time they can grow smarter. That’s when they’re getting smarter.
Out of this research, the game “Brain Points” was developed. Unlike most games which provide instant gratification, Dr. Dweck states that Brain Points requires:
“more effort, more strategies, more engagement over longer periods of time, yet yields more perseverance when they hit a really hard problem.”
Anything worthwhile in life takes hard work, focus, and dedication. From getting in shape to earning a degree, to being a world renowned musician or artist the common denominator is working hard and persevering.
Pictures of authors, musicians, doctors, missionaries, pilots or master chef’s can be a source of motivation as your child sees how many hours each of these professionals invested in order to accomplish their dreams.
(For more information on how to develop a “growth mindset” for your children, click here.)
As God directs you in your parenting, He will show you what talents, gifts and strengths your children are given. You always want to set up your child to succeed, so start with small steps and see how they do. The more they see themselves as capable of achievement, the greater this will instill in them a sense of confidence, grit and achievement.
“With man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible!” Matthew 19:26
Christy Demetriades, Ph.D.