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Inside: When a child gives up easily, the parent’s support and encouragement can make a huge difference! Here are 5 powerful ways to promote a growth mindset and to help kids develop their confidence and resilience.
My son was sitting at the table, right in front of me. We were doing a fun activity together and he was so joyful and excited about it!
But just a few moments later, he had a serious look on his face, and he told me that he doesn’t want to do it anymore.
“But why?”, I asked, “You seemed to have a lot of fun doing it!”
“I had”, he said, “but I don’t like it anymore. I’ll go do something else.”
I knew exactly what was happening because it happened before!
I was sure that he loved the activity. It was a craft from our monthly subscription box and he always enjoys them!
The real reason behind his decision to give up had nothing to do with what he was telling me.
The truth was that he was frustrated by a step of the activity that he couldn’t do well.
After trying a few times and failing, I could see the sadness in his eyes. I knew that he wanted to go on with the activity, and giving up was only his way of dealing with the feeling of failure.
What to do when a child gives up easily
It wasn’t the first time when my son had this kind of reaction when dealing with something that seemed too difficult.
Usually, I would stop an activity if he doesn’t enjoy it or he wants to do something else.
But in this case, it wasn’t about him not enjoying what he was doing. It was about giving up easily instead of trying a few more times.
And I wanted to help him deal with this in a different way!
In the next days, I started to look for ways to motivate him to go on even when things get more difficult.
The things I’ve tried before weren’t really effective, so I knew that I need to try something different.
Luckily, after some research and testing different approaches, I came up with some great ways to help him!
We started to implement them, and they work so well!
I’m glad to see that he is more motivated to learn new skills instead of giving up. And I’m determined to keep focusing on this because I think that this mindset will be even more important as he grows up.
Here are the most powerful tips that I’ve learned from our experience. If you are dealing with the same challenge with your kids, I hope that these ideas will be helpful for you too!
photo credit: Anna Grigorjeva / shutterstock.com
Resources that made a difference for us
Some time ago, I discovered some awesome resources about raising kids with a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset. Reading about this topic was so eye-opening for me!
I discovered a site that is full of helpful resources, and I used them to start implementing the principles of the growth mindset with my son.
The main idea behind the growth mindset is teaching kids to be more confident and resilient, have a positive outlook on life, and be open and curious to try new things. And this is exactly what I want for my son!
Here are two resources that we used to get started with implementing these ideas:
- Famous Failures Kit – a small collection of stories of famous people who have failed before becoming successful. These stories are perfect for helping kids overcome the fear of failure!
- Growth Mindset Printables Kits – an awesome resource for getting started with helping kids develop a growth mindset. The printable worksheets are designed for older kids (ages 5-11), but I was able to adapt them for my son (he was 4 when we started using the kits).
He loved the ideas, and using these printables helped a lot with changing his attitude about giving up.
After using these resources, I’ve also searched for practical ways to implement them. And they worked very well!
photo credit: Africa Studio / shutterstock.com
Here are the most effective tips that I’ve tried with my son.
1. The magic word that changes everything when a child gives up easily
I’ve discovered this idea while reading about the growth mindset. It’s such a simple yet powerful tip, and it made a big difference for us!
Every time kids say that they can’t do something, you can change their perspective by adding just one word to the sentence. And that magic word is “yet”.
“I can’t ride this new bike” becomes “You can’t ride it yet. But you can learn to do it!”
“I can’t do this counting activity, it’s too hard!” becomes “You can’t do it yet. But we can find a way to learn how to do it!”
For kids, this simple rephrasing matters! They understand that it’s normal not to be able to do some things but also that they can figure things out if they try more.
2. The list of things to learn
Once we started to use more “yet” sentences, my son’s attitude towards giving up started to change.
But we needed a more powerful tool to help him implement this change.
So I’ve created a special list that we call “The list of things I want to learn“.
When my son discovers that something it’s too difficult for him, I ask him if he would like to learn more about it so that he can do better in the future.
If the answer is “yes” (and it almost always is), we add that thing to our list.
For example, we write “I can’t skate yet. But I want to learn how to do it!” and we add an idea of how he can learn that skill.
When he manages to learn something new, we check that thing on our list. And he is so glad to see his progress!
Having this list helps him see difficult things in a different way. Instead of considering them obstacles or failures, he sees them as learning opportunities.
This makes him more willing to try more instead of giving up. And it also helps him build confidence as he sees that he constantly learns new things and overcomes different limitations.
photo credit: Evgeny Atamanenko / shutterstock.com
3. Making a hard task easier
Sometimes a difficult task can become very overwhelming for kids. One way to make things more manageable for them is dividing the task into several easier tasks and offering help.
One of the questions that work great for us is “How can I help?“. This lets my son know that I’m available for him, and I’m committed to helping him.
Sometimes he asks me to do the task for him, but I know that this wouldn’t really help. Instead, I ask him what is the most difficult part of the task for him. Then, I try to split the task into more manageable “mini-tasks” and offer my help for the most difficult one.
When it comes to things where I’m not actually able to help (like riding the bike or going down a huge slide), I make sure that he has my emotional support. “I’m here to make sure that you’re safe“ is a phrase that helps a lot when he is anxious about trying something new.
photo credit: Evgeniy Zhukov / shutterstock.com
4. Offering easier alternatives to build up confidence
It can be that a task is too difficult for the child, and they can’t do it at all at a certain stage of their life.
Offering the child time and support is very important!
Forcing kids to do things that they are not ready for only makes things worse. They will feel more anxiety about doing those things, and overall they will become less willing to try new things.
To be able to go out of their comfort zone and try difficult things, kids need our support. Sometimes this support means offering them enough time to get used to the new thing and explore it at their own pace.
One way to help kids get more confident in their abilities is to offer them easier alternatives to the task that they are struggling with. Once they manage to do the easier tasks, you can slowly increase the difficulty until the child is ready to learn the new task.
For example, if the child can’t write his name yet, you can start by inviting them to write some random letters, then to write their initials, then to write short 3-letter names.
Or you can write the name with a pencil and invite the child to trace it using a marker. As soon as the child gets familiar with these easier tasks, you can move on to writing their whole name on their own.
Each easy task that the child manages to complete makes them feel more confident. And it teaches them that they can learn new things if they are willing to try and practice.
5. Talking through the process
A new thing a child needs to learn can feel very intimidating at first. Kids have to learn to overcome their fears and deal with the frustration of not being able to do a specific thing. And this takes time!
One way of making a new thing feel less intimidating is discussing it with the child. Letting the child express their fears and worries helps a lot!
photo credit: Yuganov Konstantin / shutterstock.com
Also, breaking down a task into a simple step-by-step process helps kids feel more confident about dealing with it.
Here is an example:
In the park close to our house, there is a big climbing construction for kids. My son was fascinated by it from the first time he saw it. But he was also afraid to climb it. I invited him to talk to me about his worries. One of the things that he kept telling me was that he doesn’t know how to reach the top of the construction.
So, instead of focusing on this big, intimidating goal, I proposed a different approach. I told him that he only needs to focus on his next step. Instead of thinking about how to get to the top, I invited him to think only about the next step of the climbing and see how it goes.
He started to climb, and at each step, I asked him which does he think that is the best next move. This helped him climb almost half of the construction on his first try. After more attempts, he is now able to easily climb to the top. And he is so proud of it!
This may seem like a very small success, but this mindset is the foundation for dealing with more difficult things in the future.
For a school-aged child, writing a story can seem difficult. But only focusing on the next sentence at each step can make things easier! It’s all about offering the child the right tools for dealing with an intimidating task!
3 important things to remember if your child gives up easily
In the end, I want to share with you 3 important things that I’ve learned while implementing these ideas.
First of all, I learned that I need to have realistic expectations and not push my son to do things that he is not ready for. Sometimes I feel that urge to speed things up when it comes to teaching him new things, and this is not good for either of us!
Second, it’s important to keep in mind that every child is unique and learns at a different pace. Patience is important because kids need time to learn new skills, and this doesn’t always come easy for them.
Third, the parent’s behavior matters a lot! Children learn by watching us deal with failures and difficult things. If they see us complaining and giving up easily, they will do the same.
Also, if they see us being afraid of failure, they will put more pressure on them to avoid failing, and this will prevent them from being willing to try new things.
This is why I also added my own goals to “The list of things I want to learn”. I want my son to know that I’m also constantly dealing with difficult things and learning new skills.
I hope that the ideas on this list will be as helpful for you as they are for us!
If you want to get started with helping your kids develop a growth mindset, this printable kit is a great way to get started. I used the resources in the kits a lot, and I love them!
photo credit preview photo: Evgeny Atamanenko / shutterstock.com