I got to attend a conference for the past two days about Changing the Odds for children. It was really interesting and fun! Lots of teachers and mental health workers attended, and we learned a lot about how to help children develop the skills and brains necessary to walk the path in front of them.
The biggest thing I took away from it was a reminder of a lesson I learned in Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset. I highly recommend everyone read this book, especially if you work with children in any capacity.
I was reminded how important it is to try to instill in children (and ourselves) a growth mindset. This is a way of thinking that encourages growing and learning, rather than giving up when you’re stuck (a trademark of a fixed mindset). So, very simplified, a student with a fixed mindset would fail a math test and might say to themselves, “Well, I’m just bad in math.” And then they’d give up. Someone with a growth mindset would fail the same test, but their self-talk would be more along the lines of, “Ok, I didn’t do well on that test. Let me see what I can do to learn the material better and improve.”
I know I can get in the fixed mindset, especially around health and exercise. Because eating healthy and exercising regularly really is hard work! It’s hard work, and the idea that someday it might be easy isn’t helpful, because it won’t get easy. It might get easiER, but it still won’t be as easy as going to a fast food restaurant and eating junk food.
So I’m going to use one of the tips they gave us at the conference, which is the word “yet.” When I feel like I’m not healthy, or I can’t do it, or I’m not a good exerciser, or anything like that, I’ll just say “YET!” to remind myself that I can always improve. “I’m not healthy, YET!” “I’m not a good exerciser, YET!”
Even though it’s hard, the more I do it and the more I try, the more I build those connections in my brain that make it easier, and that make it more of a habit.
That’s the goal!