Did you know that how we teach, interact, and encourage children can affect their attitude toward learning? A child with a positive attitude or a growth mindset, according to Carol Dweck a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, can mean the difference between them succeeding or giving up because they see themselves as not coordinated physically or not good at drawing or not good at math.
All of us are born with unique genetic characteristics, which means we can be better than others at different things at different stages in our childhood years. Fortunately, children who develop a positive mindset learn that with practice, repetition, and hard work they can learn, improve, catch up, and even surpass kids with more natural talents.
In Taekwondo, we focus on developing a positive mindset in children so we can do everything in our power to unlock their learning potential and let them experience gradual yet continuous improvement.
Unfortunately, we sometimes get a child in Taekwondo class who has a fixed mindset where they have learned that their intelligence, talent, and physical skills are unchangeable and nothing they do can change them. For these kids, the intelligence and talent they are born with are solely responsible for success. Their hard work, determination, and ability to develop a passion for what they like to do will never be part of the equation.
Compare this to a child who is taught to have a positive mindset where they have learned that their abilities are developed through discipline, dedication, persistence, and hard work, where the child has learned that intelligence and talent are just the starting point. Children with a positive mindset discover that continually working to improve their skills can lead to a better outcome. It doesn’t matter if it’s Taekwondo, writing, math, or on a job, a positive mindset and can lead to greater success.
Developing a positive mindset is not about reading a daily motivational quote, and then thinking you will be successful. It’s about practicing that positive mindset daily until it becomes natural. That’s why parents need to start when their child is young and nurture their mindset. Teach your child that failing is part of life, that it’s an opportunity to get better. Teach your child to carry themselves with a positive upright posture, instead of hunched over. Instill in them the idea that when their body communicates that they are in charge, they will begin to feel more confident.
And lastly, tell them to choose positive friends that they can rely on to be there to support them, spend time with them, and be honest with them. Help your child understand that the people they associate with will have a significant impact and influence on their success and mindset. Teach them to choose friends that are positive and encouraging. Teach them to be a rising tide that lifts all the boats.
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Steve Doherty, M.S. Health Science