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Beyond Control: Fostering Self-Motivation and Trust in Your Children

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Being a parent is no easy feat. We've all been there, struggling to get our kids to listen and follow through on simple tasks. Sometimes, it feels like the only way to get them to do anything is by nagging or getting upset. But what if there's a better way? What if we could inspire our kids to make good decisions on their own without all the fuss?


mom, dad and child with super-hero capes

It all comes down to how we talk to them and the kind of example we set. Dr. Carol Dweck, a pioneering psychologist, talks about two important ideas: grit and a growth mindset. These concepts pave the way for a healthier approach to guiding our children to make positive decisions independently.


Dr. Dweck explains that grit is resilience and perseverance to navigate challenges and setbacks; it is about not giving up when things get tough. Encouraging children to embrace challenges as opportunities for growth can help them develop this tenacious spirit. Instead of shielding them from failures, we should guide them to learn from these experiences. When a child realizes that stumbling blocks are stepping stones to progress, they become more willing to take risks and persist in the face of adversity.


The growth mindset is a belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed over time; in other words, it is about believing that we can get better at anything if we work hard.

We empower our children to understand that their capabilities are not fixed by praising their efforts and strategies instead of their inherent traits. This fosters a sense of optimism and a willingness to explore new avenues, knowing that their potential is not limited.


Often, the key lies in establishing a foundation of trust. A child's response to our requests is deeply rooted in their trust in us and the emotional bond we share.


So, how do we use these ideas in our everyday parenting?


First off, we need to build a strong bond of trust with our kids. This trust, however, cannot be one-sided. It's a two-way street, so we've got to show them that we trust and respect them, too. This means really listening when they talk and trying to see things from their point of view.


When things get hard, we should encourage them to keep going and not be afraid of making mistakes. We want them to understand that making mistakes is a part of learning and growing. It's not about being the best right away but about tryi

ng our best and not giving up even when things don't go as planned.


Here are some practical things we can do to encourage our kids to take charge and be responsible:

  1. Encourage Decision-Making: Involve your children in decision-making processes, allowing them to feel a sense of control and responsibility. This could be as simple as allowing them to choose their outfits or participate in family discussions about household routines.

  2. Talk openly: Create an environment where your children feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns without fear of judgment. Actively listen to their perspectives, validate their emotions, and try to understand where they're coming from.

  3. Notice their efforts: When they try hard, even if they don't succeed, let them know you're proud of how hard they worked and highlight the lessons learned along the way. It's the effort that counts, so celebrate their hard work and perseverance, emphasizing the value of their dedication and not just the end result.

  4. Be realistic: Encourage them to set goals that are challenging but possible. Help them understand that it's okay to struggle sometimes as long as they keep trying.

  5. Model to them: Let them see you trying new things and not giving up when it gets tough. Let your children witness your resilience in the face of challenges and your willingness to learn from mistakes. Your actions will serve as a powerful example for them to emulate.

By using these simple ideas in our everyday lives, we can help our kids become more independent and self-motivated. Instead of always telling them what to do, we can give them the tools to make informed decisions on their own and cultivate a sense of intrinsic motivation. Driven by a growth mindset and fueled by grit, our kids can learn to tackle anything that comes their way. So, let's give it a try and embark on this journey of inspiration, empowerment, and mutual growth, and watch our children blossom into resilient, self-motivated individuals who aren't afraid to take on the world!


Source: Dweck, C. S. (2016). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House.



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