In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck gives this example dialogue for nurturing a growth mindset:
Philip: “Gee, I’m so clumsy.”
Father: “That’s not what we say when nails spill.”
Philip: “What do you say?”
Father: “You say, the nails spilled, I’ll pick them up.”
Philip: “Just like that?”
Father: “Just like that.”
Philip: “Thanks, Dad.”
It’s really that simple. This is something you can say to your kids when they make mistakes. And it’s an attitude you can model when you make mistakes yourself.
The nails spilled, pick them up. You knocked over a drink, wipe it up. You said something you regret, suck it up—then apologize with sincerity, and try to have better control over your quick emotional reactions in the future.
But don’t make a big deal about it. Just clean up the mess, learn from it, and move on.
This is such an important mindset to build into your children.
We all make mistakes. It’s what we do next that defines us.
You can pretend the mistake didn’t happen. Or you can push the blame to someone or something else. Often this stems from a fear of rejection or looking stupid. And it usually begins by watching how your parents reacted to errors.
Alternatively, you can embrace mistakes as an opportunity to learn. An error doesn’t mean you’re stupid, or irredeemable, or a lost cause. It means you’re human.
By reinforcing this mindset with your children, they’ll be much better equipped to deal with the realities of this world—and all the inevitable mistakes and failures they’ll experience along the way.
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