Parenting Podcast: Failure Means Growth

Parenting Podcast by Wendy Grinberg, RJE

In this week’s podcast, Dr. Carol Dweck talks to me about the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Once you understand this distinction, you’ll notice it everywhere. There are people who learn from their mistakes and see them as opportunities for growth and change (Have you seen Tavis Smiley’s new book, Fail Up?), and there are those who think failure is a reflection on their worth. So many children sum up this mindset with the words: “I’m not good at that.” You may think that you are of a growth mindset, but you may hold the other with regard to certain things, like art or athletics, where you believe a person either has talent or they don’t.

The stories of Rabbi Akiva’s beginnings let us know that he began his study at the age of 40, when he deduced that the words of the Torah would be powerful enough to penetrate his heart and soul gradually overtime, like water wears away a stone. At that point, he went with his child to elementary school and began to learn the alef-bet. If we are patient and persistent like Rabbi Akiva, we can all learn and increase our knowledge and skills.

As parents, it’s tempting to celebrate our children as we watch them grow and cultivate interests, but we should be cautious of labels even in the form of praise. (“He just loves the water! He’s such a good swimmer!” or “My daughter is such a good listener.”) Hear Dr. Dweck explain how praising characteristics can surprisingly erode motivation and self-esteem. She even gives some tips on how to write a speech for your child’s bar or bat mitzvah.

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Wendy Grinberg, RJE is a URJ Parenting Specialist.

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