Sheryl Roberts, MA, LPCC
Last week we talked about grit. Grit is something that everyone can develop in their lives and it has been a proven quality that helps determine success in life whether you are 9 or 90. This week we will look at a different quality. That is the quality of intelligence.
Wow, you are thinking, what do we need to talk about that for, you either have it or you dont! Well, modern science is beginning to dispute this age-old idea. When we think of those questions of old, nature or nurture, genes or environment, we find that they are not either/or, but both/and.
What I mean is, scientists are learning that children and adults have more capacity for lifelong learning and brain development than previously thought. We are all given a certain amount of gifts at birth, but it is also clear that experience, training and “grit” will take most people the rest of the way.
Why is this important to us? Because we can no longer label children according to IQ scores and do them justice. This old way of doing things we call a “Fixed Mindset”. A fixed mindset tells us that what we are given is what we have and that is all. People who live out of a fixed mindset become self-fulfilling prophecies. They stay within the narrow bounds of what they believe was given to them at birth.
The opposite of a fixed mindset is a “Growth Mindset”. A growth mindset tells us that we are not just a predetermined set of genetic code. It tells us that we can become much more and we can maximize what gifts have been given us and, therefore, the possibilities are unlimited.
In a growth mindset is the idea of “stretching”. People with a growth mindset, don’t just seek challenges, they thrive on them. They find that each challenge causes them to stretch and grow and, therefore, develop more capacity for acquiring skill, talent, success and intelligence.
How do we develop a growth mindset in our children. Here are a few suggestions.
Explain to your child that the brain can grow stronger. Show them pictures of the brain and explain neural-connections. Those connections are like muscles that can be strengthened.
Praise effort not results.
Catch them and encourage them when they practice persistence, motivation and resilience.
Don’t allow them to use words like “can’t”, rather encourage the word “yet”.
Give them permission to fail. Even in failure there are lessons to be learned.
Intelligence is not fixed! It can be nourished, nurtured and strengthened. When a child understands this concept, the world opens up to them.
Peace of Jesus,
Dweck, Carol S. Mindset the new psychology of success. Ballantine Books, 2016.