Activity: Model making mistakes

Modeling a growth mindset means being willing to try hard even when failure is likely because that's how growth happens. For example, parents should try to get excited when their children make mistakes because these mistakes can reveal important conceptual gaps that should be filled. When adults get excited about the learning that mistakes can facilitate, children start to think of mistakes as a natural part of the learning process. This leads to a few important changes in learning behavior:

  1. Children stop avoiding challenging work just because it could mean making more mistakes.
  2. Children become less likely to try to "sweep mistakes under the rug" because they stop thinking of them as something to be ashamed of.

Action Ideas

  • Make mistakes in front of your kids, have a positive reaction to those mistakes, and openly reflect on what could be learned from the mistake. Try to show that it's all about learning, not about being right.
  • At the dinner table, talk about a time that you struggled with something and how hard it is and how you overcame it. Then ask your kids if there's anything they struggled with, how they overcome it, and what they learned from the experience.
  • Get excited when your child makes a mistake and help her think through what could be learned from it. Even mistakes that seem careless can be good learning opportunities. For example, if your child forgot to study enough for an important test, it might be an opportunity to learn about prioritization and to-do-lists.
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