The Tutoring Center, Troy MI

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Tutoring in Troy Michigan

01/05/2017

Nearly all parents dream of raising a studious child who naturally excels at school with little prodding to do so. But as the majority of moms and dads eventually discover, particularly as school grows harder and more demanding, a child’s motivation to succeed isn’t necessarily intuitive. That’s where factors like accountability and discipline come in. After all, failure isn’t to be taken lightly…or is it?

Groundbreaking research from Stanford University reveals that how parents respond to their children’s failures directly affects their children’s intellectual mindsets and therefore motivational levels. In other words, however many times a parent emphasizes the importance of intelligence and overcoming setbacks, it’s a parent’s observable reaction to these setbacks that directly impacts how his/her child will view, and subsequently handle, failure. The lesson? Less lecturing in the locker room and more positive coaching on the field so to speak, particularly when there’s a fumble.

During the study, 73 pairs of parents and children were asked a series of questions related to their individual mindsets surrounding intelligence. Though it might be assumed each child’s answers would align to his/her parent’s, no correlation was found. Instead, researchers discovered that the children of parents who tended to see failure in a negative light viewed intelligence as fixed (a.k.a. not capable of improving). “Our findings show that parents can endorse a growth mindset, but they might not pass it on to their children unless they have a positive and constructive reaction to their children’s struggles,” said psychological scientist and first author of the study Kyla Haimovitz (Source: Association for Psychological Science). These same children were also prone to believe that their parents were more focused on performance and test scores rather than actual learning.

So how can you be more positive?

Remember that no one is more disappointed in the failure than your son or daughter, even if he/she isn’t outwardly projecting it. Adding to that disappointment only makes them feel more defeated; additionally, thanks to the Standford study, we now know that any negative vibes from you is only helping shape your child’s mindset that he/she cannot get better. That in itself should motivate parents to stay calm in the face of children’s failure. But you’ll want to take it a step further by being a positive force:
  • Focus on any measurable improvement, however insignificant it may seem. Even if your son or daughter gets just one more question right on a test or homework than they did the previous time, it’s a step in the right direction and one that should be pointed out to them.
  • Celebrate what they did right. Most of us have been taught to view a grade of 60% as a failure. Sure, it shows room for improvement. But what about the 60% of questions that your son or daughter got right? And maybe one or more of the questions they answered correctly happens to be something they struggled with in the past. Highlight these victories and more are likely to come. Celebrating doesn’t have to mean settling.
  • Discuss together what can be learned from the failure. Perhaps your child avoided asking the teacher for extra help even though he/she knew better. Or he/she went to bed too late the night before the test. If you engage your son or daughter in some reflection, he/she can probably pinpoint what led to the failure and what can be done.
  • Encourage them to rework the problems they missed. This not only helps them in the future, but stresses the importance of the actual learning process over grades and test scores.
  • Take steps to show your commitment to their improvement. Explain that you’re open to helping your child with homework, hiring a tutor, decreasing his/her chores in exchange for study time, etc. When you’re flexible in your approach, their mindset towards their education begins to change as well.

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