Tag Archives: mindset

This Too

In The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Jonathon Haidt, the author talks about three untruths that we have been teaching our children. These lessons were taught to millennials and even more strongly hoisted upon Gen-Z.

  1. What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.
  2. Always trust your feelings.
  3. Life is a battle of good people vs. bad people.

In the article, Having a Second Baby: What to Expect (You thought your first child was life changing! Wait until you have your second), the author sings the tune of what doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.

For the past 35 years, we have been teaching everyone that their participation is enough and that they deserve a thousand accolades for even showing up. We don’t focus on how they show up.

For the past 35 years, children have been showered with compliments. Now, we’re adults who believe we deserve a compliment for functioning as humans.

For the past 35 years, those compliments have turned people fixed-minded, believing that we don’t have to put effort into what we do. We deserve the world. Every single one of us is elite. Each thing we do should be done effortlessly or not at all.

Small Selves

Some things are getting harder. We’re more alone than ever. Sleep is increasingly harder to come by between blue light and 24-hour-job-cycles—and of course, bad sleep means bad eating, bad movement, and bad thinking.

Life is hard. But that’s beside the point.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and more grateful.

We always focus on the fact that whatever situation we’re in is the hardest situation—us, right now, in the present moment, with no regards for the past. We don’t try to think about the best way to handle a situation. We want help, answers, and pity. We want ease rather than effort.

And then, when we find ourselves in a bad situation, we feed our small selves by announcing our sacrifice. “Look how good I am,” mothers say, “I don’t take care of myself at all.”

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Having a second baby will be a lot. But it won’t be more life-changing than your first.

And with your second child, you don’t need to fit in “snuggling with your newborn while your big kid isn’t looking.”

Your first born child is allowed to be jealous. They’re allowed to be upset and cry for attention.

Allow them to have whatever feeling they’re having. Acknowledge them and coach them through them. Then let them know that the world doesn’t change to fit their feelings.

When we block our children from experiencing their negative emotions, we rob them of the opportunity to cope and grow. We also teach them over time that their most immature emotions like apathy, depression, jealousy, and rage need to be revered and tiptoed around rather than faced head-on and then let go of.

This too

You don’t have to “enjoy every moment,” with your children.

But you should try to. Try to see this time for what it is—a very short season in your life. Probably the best one. Surely one that you’ll miss dearly.

As the article suggests, remember:

This, too, shall pass—even if you don’t want it to.

 

 

No Praise?

In the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, the author Dr. Dweck goes over stories and studies reviewing the difference between people with a fixed mindset—people who believe that something is an innate characteristic—and a growth mindset—people who believe that with hard work, you can become more skilled at anything.

In the book, Dweck goes over how people develop fixed mindsets. You can prime people to get into one or the other easily. You can tell people that a skill is natural (fixed), or that it can be developed (growth). You can praise them for their ability or talent (fixed) instead of their hard work and effort (growth).

The worst effect of the fixed mindset is that effort becomes a bad. Effort is for people who aren’t naturally smart, who aren’t naturally gifted at sports, or naturally talented at art. To do well means to be good, effortlessly. If you put in the effort and you fail, it proves that you aren’t smart or aren’t talented. It doesn’t just mean that you haven’t done well, or that you need to try harder.

This leads people to do everything they can to defend their views of themselves, which means forgoing challenges and learning opportunities and opting for the sure-thing. Why challenge yourself when the best outcome is to prove something everyone already knows—that you’re smart or strong or artistically talented—and the worst is to show that you’re not and never were?

Having a fixed mindset means responding poorly to criticisms, shutting down communication, acting elitist, and feeling that you are less worthy when others show competence. It means valuing revenge over forgiveness, ignoring faults and flaws, and blaming outside forces when things don’t go your way.

Most people have a fixed mindset for somethings and a growth mindset for others; we might oscillate between one and the other depending on the day. I may have a fixed mindset regarding intelligence but a growth mindset in relation to artistic abilities.

This research done by Dweck is what motivates people to try to abstain from praising their children. I try to, but find it challenging.

The good news is that the common interpretation of the research is wrong. It isn’t that you can’t praise. It means that you have to praise them in a different way. You praise them for dedication, for effort, for perseverance, for growth; not for their accomplishments and abilities. You can also ask them questions about what they’ve done to acknowledge and validate their efforts.

Better still, the research all points to another heartening fact: praising your children isn’t doing permanent, irreversible damage. People have changed their mindsets on this issue many times, over many different fields. People change it quickly in a lab setting, and over time as they find that it isn’t serving them. The author even has tips to begin changing your mindset today if you want.

Would it be better to praise in a way that facilitates growth from the start and then only in that way? Sure, that would be beautiful. It seems that people who are in a fixed mindset end up very defensive. They covet their crown, and it leads to disconnection. Failure feels mortifying because it calls into question their worthiness as a person.

It is very natural to us to praise endlessly. We believe it helps confidence. But it doesn’t.

But sometimes my child really is just the smartest child in the world.

Still, I think we can lean towards these more productive compliments. It is much harder to not praise at all than it is to praise differently.

The more ingrained the concept of innate characteristics reigns in your family, the harder it will be to find it and root it out, but it can be changed at any time. Each time your child shows you something, it is another opportunity to set the stage for a growth mindset.
Journal Questions:

  1. What is something that I used to be bad at, but am now good at after hard work?
  2. What abilities do I think are fixed?

Practice

  1. Catch yourself giving destructive praise 5 times this week, and turn it into constructive praise.