Raising Smart Kids

Smart young boy stood infront of a blackboard

This blogpost has been reproduced from the Parent Edge blog with permission. Parent Edge is a leading Parenting Magazine in India.

The world overvalues smartness and undervalues hard work and effort. So, you would be surprised to know that research done at Stanford University by Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, tells us exactly the opposite.

Dweck’s book Mindset talks about two kinds of attitudes with which individuals approach situations- fixed and growth.People with a fixed mindset believe that their basic qualities like intelligence and talent are fixed traits. They spend time in holding on to their intelligence rather than developing them. More importantly, they believe that talent alone creates success.

People who adopt a growth mindset on the other hand believe that ability can be developed and strengthened through hard work and effort. Talent you are “born with” is just the starting point. This view creates a love for learning and equally significantly resilience.

Now why is this so important for parents and society at large? Because unwittingly or deliberately many of us subscribe to the fixed mindset worldview- and how does this manifest?

By holding “bright” children in high esteem, secretly wishing our kids are tagged the “super smart” or gifted, applauding our children when they figure things out quickly, and also believing that talent is the biggest determinant of success.
Even last week end, when I was anchoring a discussion with parents, one of them said, my son is average in everything he does- he is not exceptional in any area- what does the future hold?

As parents, we categorize our children quite quickly and, as a consequence, we do not do what it takes to motivate them continuously.
If we subscribed to the growth mindset, on the other hand, we will encourage or children to keep trying, praise effort rather than outcomes, motivate them when they are struggling, share with them stories that so called genius is a product of at least 10000 hours of hard work, and inculcate an attitude that effort counts as much, if not more, than innate intelligence.

According to Dweck, the mindset shapes a child’s attitude towards learning and expanding one’s horizons. In life these are attributes that often determine success. An experiment carried out by Dweck among school children showed that a “smart child” with a fixed mindset is reluctant to take on risks, is afraid of failure, and so is unwilling to try the hard problem whereas the child with a growth mindset, even if he is not as smart, is willing to try the same problem, and does not worry as much about not being able to get the right answer.

No prizes for guessing which of the above kinds of children will grow up to be a Rahul Dravid ( someone whose performance has far outstripped his innate talent)!
Ps: I stole the title of this post from that of an article written by Dweck for the Scientific American!

(written by Sudha Kumar)


Quit smart

aid1794110-728px-quit-a-job-while-on-maternity-leave-step-17With the kind of stress that corporate jobs tend to create, many men and women are choosing to opt out of the rat race to lead better lives. Studies have shown that one of the primary reasons that many women tend to opt out of their careers post having a child is the lack of support from the husband and the family in raising the child. Interestingly, there have been many cases recently, wherein women are moving to full time careers post having children while their husbands are choosing to take on parenting as a serious responsibility.

It is interesting to note that there is no longer a taboo associated with choosing to lead a life that allows one to focus on parenting. This holds good for both the parents. With the kind of changing climate conditions which bring with them new age diseases including many learning disorders, parents are left with limited options and are happy to move out of their full time jobs. Making such a fundamental shift, which impacts your day–to-day life, does entail some unique challenges. If you are such a spouse, who has chosen to take the plunge, you might fear that your decision could adversely impact your relationship with your spouse, albeit temporarily.

Some things that you can do to ensure that you preserve happiness are:

a) Make a list of all the things you and your spouse have wanted to do but have not been able to for lack of time. Include the mundane tasks, of course but also add some exciting ones, like planning a vacation and starting a fitness drive at home.

b) Find productive ways to be engaged through the day. Productive may not always mean you earn money out of it though it is hopefully something that will enable you to earn some money at some point in time. It is ok to invest your time to learn more about something that you want to do.

c) Make time for your social life. It is now time to contact all those long lost friends, meet your relatives and just hang out at some interesting networking events.

d) Don’t shy away from spending within a budget. Agreed that you are no longer in a full time job but denying yourself small pleasures can pull you down. If heavy expenses are something you would like to avoid, indulge in the less expensive things. Go low on money and high on time.

e) Pat yourself on the back for having made a tough call. Remind yourself every day why you chose to give up your job and do something to prove to yourself that you made the right decision.

At some point in time in our lives, the family we hail from, the premier schools we went to and the fat pay cheques we used to get, all seem irrelevant. What matters, at the end of the day, is happiness and peace and anything that leads us to that is justified. What say?

This post is a reproduction of my weekly column on ‘Relationships’ in The Goan (http://thegoan.net).

Protecting your child from yourself

parents-childNobody’s perfect. Moms aren’t, as well. That, somehow, seems to be a mothers’ deepest fear. What if I am not doing this right..? What if what this other mom does, is indeed right about how I should handle this? We only have our gut to rely on. Something that tells us that this is the right way to deal with this situation for our children.

The thing is, that each of us are evolving every moment. Motherhood, really, is a process..which starts when a child is born and does not end unless we choose to end it.

Every moment, as moms, we are discovering ourselves more, finding new ways of dealing with the challenges that raising children presents us with. Every moment, we try and push ourselves to do the best, limited only by our own limitations as human beings.

It is hence, tough for a mother to know her own shortcomings and to learn to address them so as to not impact her child. Losing one’s temper is perhaps one such thing that many mothers would be able to relate to.

Dealing with household responsibilities, the relationship with the husband, the extended family, a high pressure work environment, it can all really get to you.

In the midst of all this, it is tough to take a deep breath and to listen to what your child might be trying to communicate.

It is easy to get caught into this trap of ‘I can’t do this anymore’. Almost all mothers would be able to relate to this…even supermoms 🙂

So how does one deal with one’s own shortcomings as to not impact the child? The last thing you want is to shut down the communication channels with your child and for that to start impacting your child’s development.

The first step, is to acknowledge, that there is, indeed, a problem and it would need to be addressed. That itself requires a great deal of effort. It is important to then be able to isolate the factors that are causing you to lose your temper leading to venting in front of the child.

Seeking help from a life coach might help. In cases where issues are more compounded, as financial pressures or relationship issues or a highly volatile work environment, seeking help from a psychologist might be a good idea.

At the end of the day, if there is an issue, it needs to be resolved. The point is, is the issue that you need to address, you yourself? If yes, own up and take action. If not for yourself, then do it for your child and for your family. As a mom, you need to be able to protect a child. Even if it is from yourself.


tumblr_o8et6avllt1qdjbb7o1_1280I need to tell the maid to come an hour earlier tomorrow..I have to remember to give my child the second dose of medication when she is back from school…I have to call for some groceries in an hour from now when the store opens…I only have 10 minutes to get ready and get going…(door bell rings – it’s the milkman). ‘Please come tomorrow for the payment’. I have to think about what to wear for that evening with friends tomorrow…Why won’t a plumber come in time to fix this leaking tap?..(phone beeps…it’s a friend). ‘Will get back to you by tomorrow’. I need to buy a pair of gloves for my daughter…All these, in a span of 5 minutes. This is just a trailer from 1 day of a working mom’s life.

If you are a working mom, you know what I am talking about. You go through these moments day after day after day, hoping that things will get better…hoping that soon, you will have half an hour to yourself or that you will be able to enjoy an evening out with your friends…and in that hope, life goes on and on and on. If that moment does not come soon, some of us might fall prey to our deteriorating health or friends and family who seem to be drifting away…or is it that we are drifting away from them?

In the effort to hold on to our strongest anchor, our child and our family, we might find we are slowly drifting away from our vision of our lives and how we had wanted it to be.

The good thing is, we know it when this is happening. We choose to live in that knowledge everyday, day after day. Sometimes, we reach a point when we do not know where our roots lie. We think we don’t have time for ourselves post having a baby when the truth is, we need to be rooted, in ourselves, more than ever. It is because we now have someone else to provide roots to.

The good news is that our roots are still with us. We have just gone adrift and lost touch with them.

You can choose to find your roots again and lead a sane life, just the way you would like to.

Life coaches can help you re-establish your connect with yourself. How? Sign up for a trial session free of charge and experience how it can help you.

Just send an email to namrata.arora@growth-cube.com.

Your life is yours to choose.

Happy New Year!