New Year resolutions for you and your child

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What’s on your list of New Year resolutions this year? Why not add a few resolutions that are guaranteed to make a real difference to your family?

While many believe that achievement and success is solely a result of innate talent and ability, researchers have discovered that there is far more to succeeding than that. In fact, it’s our own internal beliefs that shape our behaviours, and hence our chances of success, say experts.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck agrees. She thinks the key quality that distinguishes successful people is whether they believe their innate abilities can be developed, or if their abilities are fixed and cannot be improved.

In an interview with Education World, she argues, “There is no relation between students' abilities or intelligence and the development of mastery-oriented qualities. Some of the very brightest students avoid challenges, dislike effort, and wilt in the face of difficulty. And some of the less bright students are real go-getters, thriving on challenge, persisting intensely when things get difficult, and accomplishing more than you expected.”

Success, as it turns out, is having the right mindset. It’s not about being smart, it’s about believing that working hard will make you better at something. The good news is that a growth mindset can be taught – early intervention can have an immediate impact on academic results.

 Here are five easy ways you can encourage a “growth” mindset:

1. Spend one-on-one time with each child. This builds emotional connection, reduces negative behaviour, and makes a child more willing to put in the effort needed.

2. Start small, with “micro goals” that build confidence and encourage a child to keep trying.

3. Provide appropriate challenges. Working out helps you develop muscles; working out your brain with challenges helps your brain grow.

4. As your child succeeds, praise the effort and strategies, not the intelligence or result. Research has shown that praise for intelligence can actually undermine success. Instead, try saying:

“I’m proud of you for sticking with this tough project/worksheet/problem.”
“It looked like you were working hard and having fun doing this activity.”
“When you learn a new thing, it grows your brain. Well done!”

5. If your child experiences a set back or struggles with a challenge, try using these phrases to encourage your child to persevere, advises Dweck:

“The point isn’t to get it right away. It’s to grow your understanding step by step. What can you try next?”
“That feeling of maths (for example) being hard is the feeling of your brain growing.”

With these tips in mind, let 2017 be the year your child achieves greater heights, with a little encouragement from you!

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