Today I am sitting in my office & the rain is BUCKETING down outside for a change. I am feeling blessed beyond measure because we have desperately needed rain for the longest time. We are in the midst of a bit of a water crisis here in Cape Town. Many of us have been praying, doing rain dances, making deals with God in the hope that he would bestow us with a shower or 2 & now he has…. so feeling very blessed.
Its been a rough morning with my son who had an oral presentation for English today. Its a new grade, as well as a new class teacher & a few new faces in his class so I think he was having a bit of a melt for all the ‘new stuff’ that he is needing to cope with today. We all go through some trying times when new experiences take us out of our comfort zones. I think what is important to remember is that we are all learning & growing. For some of us, change is easier than for others BUT change is inevitable. It is important to learn to cope with this fact & recognise the signs or triggers that set us off & to learn the best way to deal with the emotions this may bring up for you.
How fitting that for the last few days I have been reviewing my coaching theory & learning some new techniques for fostering & encouraging growth and change. What has really resonated with me is Carol Dwecks work on FIXED vs a GROWTH mindsets. You can view some of her work on YouTube.
What is relevant for me today about her work is that I have up to this point not done a particularly good job at teaching my 10 year old son about having a growth mindset. I feel that I myself DO foster a growth mindset, YET I have not taught him about having one. It is however never too late to start. Carol Dweck says: “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort &amp; keep on learning. That way their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to repair &amp; build their own confidence.”
I have done the absolute best I can with the internal tools I had at the time.. I am also grateful for the new tools I have learned. I have praised him for trying but I have not necessarily used growth mindset wording that motivates him to try harder all the time & I may not have encouraged him enough to love a challenge. I have told him that things will get better or easier rather than to reassure him that it is exciting to always improve. I have not always shown him that new experiences are a way to expand your horizon & that one should embrace them. I have not mirrored to him that change is stretch, stretch is growth, growth is good.
I recognise that there is a gap, so today I am committing to creating a new habit for myself. I will intentionally implement a new way of thinking; speaking & being so that I can teach my son the value of a growth mindset; There are 5 steps I will have to follow to ensure that I make this new vision happen.
Step 1: Awareness of the habit
I have already recognised that I may not always be teaching, displaying & encouraging a growth mindset. I will need to unpack some of the phrasing I use when speaking to him & see how these need to be revised to be more growth mindset orientated. I will also need to establish why I start out with the correct thinking, phrasing etc but possibly get sidetracked as his negative emotions derail both him & me. I have quite a bit of work to do in this area.
Step 2: The impact of the habit
Once I have reflected back on specific scenarios, I will need to recognise the impact that his reactions (even the emotionally charged rants) have on me & the cycle that it then creates. The impact of his own habits & mine are not beneficial, but I need to pinpoint what it leads to & how the entire dance exacerbates the situation.
Step 3: Commitment to change
I will then commit to making the changes needed. This may require deeper reflection on my side as I will need to teach him how it is done. He will learn by my example as at this stage he is developing his toolkit of experiences to shape how he develops.
Step 4: Define the habit
I will need to implement firewalls for myself, triggers/ words that my brain will recognise as warning signs so that it is able to proactively map the replies & facilitate the calm environment required to foster the change from a FIXED mindset to a GROWTH mindset. I could also set a vision for myself of how the new habit may improve not only my relationship with my son but also his confidence levels as he recognizes that he has the ability to NOT freak out.
Step 5: Support the growth of the new habit
I have to ensure that there are small hits of dopamine that come from both of us feeling rewarded by the new process. This is the key way to embedding the new habit. The more we repeat this new dance, the more comfortable it will become. We will keep on dancing until we master this part of the dance & then move on to the next scene.
Change is not easy. It is NOT easy to recognise that you may be doing something to jeopardize your own progress or the growth of those you love. We would NEVER intentionally hurt ourselves or those close to us. Sometimes habits creep up on us & we live with them for years without realizing that they may be harmful. If you feel you may have a habit that you think may be hindering your progress, why don’t you make contact today! I would love to walk alongside you as you journey on the some of the same roads that I am currently….