Keep Calm and Carry On to Success

You may have heard the phrase, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Current research on learning points to the truth of this old saying. In fact, you can help children “try again” by saying, “Let’s talk about what you tried and what you can try next time.”  You can also support a child’s growth when you praise the steps they take to learn something new. This is called a growth mindset.

Persistence is trying something many times.  
Growth mindset is believing that you can improve and grow your abilities.

What we know:

Children learn best when we focus on their efforts and how they are trying to learn rather than talking about their mistakes. People who believe we can work to grow and improve our abilities have a growth mindset. They act like intelligence is a muscle that needs exercise to get stronger. They also see mistakes as time to learn and try something different to reach their goal. You can help your child have a growth mindset.

Try this:

Promote persistence and a growth mindset in your child by praising their learning rather than the outcomes of their efforts, like getting a good grade on a test or getting on a team. Try replacing these common statements with growth mindset comments:

  • Replace “I’m glad you tried.” with “What should you try next?”
  • Replace “You’ll do better next time.” with “What is this teaching you?”
  • Replace “I guess that was too hard for you.” with “Who could you ask for help?”
  • Replace “I told you that wouldn’t work.” with “It looks like the first part of your idea worked, how can you fix the rest?”

Raising Caring Kids’ short video “Persistence” shows how you can use these words to help a child to improve and grow their abilities.

For fun:

Watch “Soar” — a six-minute video about a young girl who learns from her challenges (and failures) while helping a very small friend fly. Talk about:

  • How do you feel when a project doesn’t work?
  • How can working with another person help fix a problem?
  • How did the main character learn from her mistakes?

Print this as a 1-page handout (Keep Calm and Carry On to Success, PDF).

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