Parents can teach their children to have a positive, growth mindset with these 9 skills that will help kids thrive in life.
Every parent wants their child to learn and grow. We all desire to see our kids thrive in life and become “successful.” But success is a very subjective idea. To one family, success might involve money and great achievements, while in another it might mean a life full of service and purpose with little monetary reward.
Whatever path our children follow to answer the call God places on their lives, we can set them up to thrive in any circumstances with an early and focused intention to help them develop key growth skills that will serve them well throughout adolescence and adulthood.
I call these “growth” skills instead of “grown-up” skills because let’s be clear. . .most grown ups are still growing in these areas. I know I am. First and foremost, our kids need to know that it’s okay to always be growing.
In fact, becoming the best version of ourselves involves constant growth, pruning, cultivation and care. So let’s go ahead and name GROWTH as the most important life skill we can develop. To be always looking for ways to become better, not perfect. This is often called a “growth mindset.”
“…parents who consistently praised their toddlers for effort, rather than for talent or innate traits, were found to have children with positive mindsets five years later. These children, at ages 7 and 8, were more likely to believe that their abilities could change and grow with hard work. This aligns with a large body of education research showing that a “growth mindset” — a set of beliefs that help learners connect success with hard work and perseverance — contributes to improved student outcomes.”
The article goes on to connect the dots between a positive or growth mindset with not only success but with a person’s health as well. It’s fascinating research and it’s changing the emphasis we put on positive thinking and the focus on growth versus achievement in our home.
Once we decide to put our focus on growing through life, here are 9 skills that when developed young, will help our kids thrive.
9 Growth Skills that will Help Kids Thrive in Life
Being a Good Friend. No matter how much we teach our kids to “be kind” and “follow the golden rule”, kids need time and practice to grow good friendship skills.
Selfishness, fear and insecurity are usually at the root of our friendship troubles. But we can teach our kids how to develop healthy friendships by focusing on skills that grow thriving relationships such as. . .
- avoiding unnecessary drama by diffusing tension or simply walking away
- measuring worth by God’s standard, not that of the world
- what it means to be a faithful friend
Managing Emotions. Between the craziness going on inside their bodies and the pressure of growing up, it’s no wonder our kids are often an emotional mess. Children need parents to listen and validate their emotions but they also need us to teach them skills to manage those emotions; to know what to do with them.
As our friends in one of my favorite movies, Inside/Out portrayed, our emotions play a large role in navigating our way through life. And when kids learn how to handle emotions young, they grow into more emotionally healthy adults. Important skills to teach kids when dealing with emotions might include. . .
- teaching them to understand the root of their feelings
- helping them understand whether they have the power to change the situation or change the way they think about it
- allowing kids to experience (not avoid) disappointment
- developing resiliency and contentment when things don’t go their way
Being Responsible. This one applies to so many areas of life. From taking care of their things (possessions and surroundings) to follow through on activities, school work and commitments, responsibility is one of the most important growth skills our kids need to thrive in life.
Let’s face it, adulting is hard. So if we’re raising future adults (which we are) then we need to teach them the skills they need to be decent humans who take responsibility for themselves, their things and their actions by. . .
- teaching them to finish well (not just get by)
- helping them learn to take good care of their things, both big and small (and family things like furniture and electronics)
- requiring them to contribute to the household through regular chores
- encouraging them to not give up when things get hard (this is huge for developing a growth mindset)
- teaching them to go the extra mile. . .do more than is expected of them
Staying Positive. At the root of a growth mindset is the ability to find the bright side; to stay positive when things get hard. This is a tough one for many of us (me!) but the more we cultivate an atmosphere of gratitude in our home, the more we’ll default to a positive attitude, no matter what.
We can help our kids develop a positive outlook by. . .
- practicing gratitude daily
- making it a habit to look for the bright side in tough situations
- opening their mind to a broader worldview so they understand their own blessings
Being a Good Steward. Managing money is a life skill every child needs to learn but beyond just managing money we can teach our kids to be good stewards of the gifts given to them by God. Money, like success, will come with different philosophies for different families, depending on our individual values, personalities and experience.
Whether we tend to save more or give more, a balance can be found in teaching kids to look at their finances as God’s provision, given to us to steward according to his leading. We can help kids develop stewardship skills by. . .
- encouraging them to give back to God, first
- guiding them to develop the habit of praying about how to use their money
- teaching them to be generous with those in need (and trust God to provide for what we need)
- helping them keep track of their money and where it goes
Seeking Wisdom. The Bible says,
“Wisdom is the most important thing. So get wisdom. If it costs you everything you have, get understanding.” Proverbs 4:7 ICB
The pursuit of wisdom is a life skill we all need. It’s a value that can form a habit if we allow our desire for truth to guide us. In today’s culture where information (and much of it misinformation) is front and center at all times, we need to teach our kids how to filter what they read and seek wisdom by. . .
- helping them understand they cannot believe everything they read at face value
- encouraging them to look only to trusted sources
- opening their eyes to the motivation behind much of what is shared in the media and to allow their own God-driven motivation and God’s Word to filter their understanding
- encouraging them to ask questions of trusted leaders
Finding Balance. Life these days is intense. Everything seems to be done big from birthday parties to extracurricular activities. We live in an often all or nothing society where we’re told to go big or go home. And that lifestyle may work for some but for most of us, we simply need to find balance.
Our kids will probably have big seasons and quiet seasons in their lives but if we teach them to seek balance, chances are they’ll lead healthier, more centered lives over the long haul.
A growth mindset will lead to balance because by nature, there is a certain stability needed in order for growth to occur. We can encourage our kids to seek and find balance by. . .
- helping them develop good decision making skills
- encouraging them to make decisions one season at a time
- teaching them how to say NO
- developing their ability to prioritize
Using Discretion. Anything goes online these days. Our kids are growing up in a culture that says it all and sometimes bares it all. While most children probably won’t choose to share too much of their physical selves, all kids need to learn how to use discretion in their words and image both online and in real life.
As social media becomes more and more a part of our kids’ lives, teaching them how to use discretion is crucial to protecting them – both physically and emotionally. We can help our kids learn discretion by. . .
- reminding them to treat their body (and soul) as a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19)
- encouraging them to find their worth in what God says about them, not the world
- opening their eyes (when appropriate) to the dangers of sharing too much online
- encouraging them to respect themselves and their friends enough to keep private matters private
- teaching them to T.H.I.N.K before they post (or speak) – is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind?
Practicing Self-Care. This one we tend to think only applies to adults. But the practice of self-care can be developed early so our kids grow up knowing how to rest and rejuvenate their spirit.
With all of the pressure now for kids to perform in school and in their extracurricular activities, they can feel like they are on a never-ending hamster wheel of life just trying to do better and get better at all times. But we can teach our kids to take seasons of rest and practice ongoing self-care by. . .
- helping them develop a quiet time with God – the most important and effective self-care practice
- reminding them to take care of their whole selves – body, mind and spirit
- helping them find restful activities they enjoy such as reading or a low pressure hobby
- teaching them to journal regularly to process emotions and record their journey
When we take our focus off of innate ability and the pursuit of achievement and we instead, seek growth in all areas at all times, we remove the pressure our kids often feel and we give them the freedom to bloom in God’s timing and by his divine purpose.
It’s a paradigm shift in modern thinking and it’s one we can pursue for our kids’ benefit and our own.
What growth skills are you teaching your kids? I’d love to add more to this list!