I talk with adolescents all day, but I have limited experience with little kids. I get scared when confronted with a tiny, semi-verbal creature and tend to fall back on my instincts — which, I’m ashamed to say, with girls means I often compliment them on some aspect of their appearance. They (and their parents) are so obviously proud of their cute dress or hair bow! Lisa Bloom’s post at HuffPo has some advice on how to do better:
Try this the next time you meet a little girl. She may be surprised and unsure at first, because few ask her about her mind, but be patient and stick with it. Ask her what she’s reading. What does she like and dislike, and why? There are no wrong answers. You’re just generating an intelligent conversation that respects her brain. For older girls, ask her about current events issues: pollution, wars, school budgets slashed. What bothers her out there in the world? How would she fix it if she had a magic wand? You may get some intriguing answers.
I bet little girls and boys aren’t asked about their minds often enough. This seems like good advice for both genders.
And while we’re at it, we talk about this “fixed mindset vs. growth mindset” stuff a lot in faculty meetings. I frequently find myself checking “You’re so good at this” statements before they come out of my mouth now and switching to “You worked so hard”:
…the students with a growth mind-set felt that learning was a more important goal in school than getting good grades. In addition, they held hard work in high regard, believing that the more you labored at something, the better you would become at it…. The students who held a fixed mind-set, however, were concerned about looking smart with little regard for learning. They had negative views of effort, believing that having to work hard at something was a sign of low ability.