Guest Blogger: Melanie Nichols
This March, we are sharing a special series of blog posts from Melanie Nichols. This series was originally posted in February 2021. You can find Melanie and her blog here. If you would like to submit to our blog, please email us.
Whether your kids are 2 or 22 (or anywhere in between!), they are going to make mistakes. And inevitably, as parents and teachers, we are going to mess up too. When our relationship with the children in our homes and classrooms is built on a foundation of love, we can use these mistakes on both sides as an opportunity for learning and growth.
There are two ways we can approach mistakes that our kids or we make. Mistakes and mess-ups can be frustrating, embarrassing, or even painful, often with consequences that need accountability. But it should not define our kids or us. How we approach mistakes can either prevent learning or serve as a powerful catalyst to embrace new challenges. To paraphrase from an article on techtello.com (link below), people with a fixed mindset believe that they have a specific amount of talent or skill, and “that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb.” Whereas people with a growth mindset understand that “not knowing or not being good at something can be a temporary state—so they don’t have to feel ashamed or try to prove they’re smarter than they currently are.”
Researchers have found that the brain continues to develop and change, even as adults. This means it is possible to help kids and ourselves develop a growth mindset. We all know that mistakes will happen. A growth mindset views them as an opportunity for learning and a springboard to improve next time. We can model this growth mindset by recognizing and admitting to our mistakes, making amends and apologizing when necessary (even – maybe especially! – to our kids), and sharing with our kids how we use the opportunity to make changes to improve in the future. In addition to modeling, we must encourage these same behaviors in our children. Part of this means accepting their apologies and extending forgiveness, even when it is hard. It is up to us to help them discover how to make amends and make a plan to improve in the future and prevent similar mistakes.