It’s that time of year again, back to school time. Let’s arm ourselves with tools to help our children build a rubber ball mindset. What drives a child to be persistent? When your child makes a mistake or has a setback, how do they respond? Do they dwell on it or can they look ahead? Can they shake off the uncomfortable feelings and move on? I have three children and one does it better than the other two. When we learn how to teach them that mistakes are not the end of the world, our children can learn how to bounce back from them faster. We need to help our children build a rubber ball mindset.
So how do you instil this mindset in your children?
Respond Positively To Failure
A common mistake parents make with trying to promote a rubber ball mindset is to ignore or not focus on when a child fails. Showing children they don’t have to be perfect every time and that failure is how they learn and improve is actually valuable. A lot of people are good at praising effort but not encouraging a growth mindset. Praising a child’s intelligence instead of their effort can make them enjoy their work less so they do not perform as well. Children need to know that failure isn’t bad but that is it is a tool for improving.
Be mindful of your own reactions.
It is so easy to get upset when our children make mistakes. Instead, try to respond in a more positive way. Turn the situation into a fun experience rather than a failed goal. Show your child how to learn from what when wrong instead of feeling defeated. Sometimes our kids have a better grasp on the rubber-ball mindset than we give them credit for. Don’t praise their ability or intelligence as that promotes a fixed mindset. Compliment their effort, the process and their choices.
Let them try new things often
Being able to handle little frustrations will make it easier for your child to handle big frustrations. Play simple games like Snap and Uno and don’t let them win! Expose your child to lots of different opportunities to try new things, knowing they won’t always be successful and that’s OK. Every word and action from parent to child sends a message. Children need to learn they can get better in almost every area of life if they work hard.
Focus on enjoying the journey with them.
My eldest child loves drawing and painting. So many drawings hung in her bedroom and served as a visual reminder of her growth as an artist. When she didn’t win a drawing contest at the end of the school year I was surprised. I thought her work was really good. She didn’t seem bothered. She enjoyed the journey and for her has been enough.
Empathise and use rubber-ball imagery.
If your child gets bullied, listen to what he is going through and be kind to him and teach him how to respond. Tell him to be like a rubber ball and let mean words bounce off instead of hurting. Be encouraging and help him train himself to spend less time being hurt and more effort on how to bounce back. Empathise with their feelings and then teach them how to recover and grow stronger.
Let your children see they are not the centre of your world.
If a you spend a lot of time driving your children to extra mural activities every afternoon and doing homework with them at home, they might start to assume your happiness depends on them. It’s necessary for our children to see that we have other interests outside parenting and that our happiness does not depend only on them. If you teach a child that mistakes are OK and they aren’t a catastrophe for you, he’s going to fare better when he fails a test or forgets his lines during the school play..
Give them other responsibilities.
Forgoing chores to focus solely on the child’s upcoming test will tell them that nothing else matters as much as their performance and you don’t want that. Teach them to still put in effort but also make time for everyday tasks.
Incorporate humour and fun into daily life.
Some children take take things very seriously and be hard on themselves. Make a conscious effort to get them laughing. Laughing decreases his stress and can put things into better perspective. Sometimes you even have to embarrass yourself to teach your child to loosen up.
Lastly, to help our children build a rubber ball mindset perhaps build an actual rubber ball together and show your child how easy it can be when the elastic band snaps to bounce back into shape.
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