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How to Talk to Kids about Personal Growth

You must value a growth mindset, or you wouldn’t be reading this today!

Kids who are exposed to personal development thinking have the opportunity to get a head start in development of self-esteem, confidence and emotional intelligence.


Growth mindset can give kids a leg up as they interact with their peers and explore the world.


Add one or many of these ideas into your daily interactions and you are introducing them to the many facets of having a growth mindset!


Lead by Example


I know, this isn’t necessarily how to ‘talk’ to kids about personal growth, but actions always speak louder than words. People who have kids or are around kids know this to be true. Mirror a life where you try to do better and be better AND let your kids see that.


What does that look like? Here are some things to DO and SAY:

  • DO - Do what you say that you will do. If you talk about doing better at something, do it.

  • SAY - Talk about how you are processing something together. Let them hear how you feel and ask how they feel about it too. (Example: a move, a change for the family, something new, a loss)

  • SAY - Tell kids what you are working on yourself to show them that we all have room for improvement!

  • SAY - Apologize when you haven’t been at your best.

  • SAY - Bring attention to their strengths when you see it with less focus on the result (Example: You really focused on solving this problem and I can tell that you worked to try a few fixes.)

  • DO - Offer kids opportunities to problem solve themselves or with you.


Give Them the Vocabulary

Help them navigate emotions by talking through it with them. Then name that emotion for kids during the discussion. They will be able to talk more concisely about how they feel when the next time arises.

SAY - "It sounds like you were excited about something happening that didn’t happen – that must have been disappointing."


Make Growth Conversations Part of Every Day Conversations


It’s not always easy or welcomed to have formal conversations with kids (young or older) but situationally introducing growth opportunities while they experience life will be more meaningful to them.

SAY - "This week you have treated your sister the way you’d like to be treated. She’s also treated you better because of it. Have you noticed that?"


Include Kids in Periodic Evaluations of a Process Around the House or School

What went well? What could we do better? Conversations like this demonstrate that you aren’t looking for perfection and to look for opportunities where something can be done better.

SAY - "I’ve noticed that not all the chores are getting done throughout the week. What could we work together to do differently to make that happen?"


Consider Setting Short Term Goals with Kids

The practice of kids choosing a goal, breaking it into actionable steps, planning and tracking to it, while supported, can help them begin to develop new skills that will serve them for the long term.

Examples:

  • Fundraising goal for something that they are motivated to have

  • Make a 3 point shot

  • Giving 3 compliments in a day


Give them Control Where it Makes Sense


Kids don't control a lot so give them tools to help guide them in what they can control. Show them options or new ways to think and allow the opportunity to make a choice.

  • SAY -"When a friend is not nice to you, rather than reciprocating, empathize. Might something be bothering them?"

  • SAY -"The family has a free Saturday, should we work on this project or go do this activity or something else? What do you think?"


New Experiences Create Growth Opportunities


New challenges, new environments, new skills all build new skillsets to master.

Here are some things to DO and SAY:

  • DO - An older kid can be given a budget for a needed clothing item and allow them to shop to that budget.

  • SAY - Headed somewhere familiar in the car? Ask a younger kid to tell you how to get there.

  • DO - Allow a kid to choose a meal that you all can make together.

  • SAY - Ask for a recap of a day during vacation to hear what experiences were most important to them.


Gratitude Conversations

The practice of gratitude is for everyone! Kids’ worlds can be very small, and they benefit from hearing you vocalize what you have gratitude for in that world.


When you can incorporate some of these ideas into your conversations with your kids or kids around you, you will truly be giving them a gift!

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