Let Us Test Your Mindset

Encountering a challenging situation with your teenager’s academics, such as failing a math test, can serve as a pivotal moment for teaching and growth. Let’s explore this scenario:

Your teenager has been diligently preparing for a math test—completing homework and studying in advance—but unfortunately, they don’t perform well. They express frustration, feeling that the test included unexpected material. As a parent, your response in this moment can profoundly influence their perspective on learning and failure.

Choosing the Best Response

Imagine this situation and consider these responses:

  • A: “It’s too bad, but you deserved to fail. I know you put in some good effort, but you need to work harder next time.”
  • B: “I can’t imagine why you didn’t do well. I was proud of how hard you worked. Let’s take a look at your test to see if it’s correct.”
  • C: “I believe in you. I know you have the ability to do well, and I’m sure you will next time.”
  • D: “This one test grade isn’t that important in the long run. If you do your homework and ask the teacher for extra credit, I’m sure you can still get a good grade in the class. Have you thought about talking with the teacher?”

According to Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, the best response might initially seem counterintuitive. Dweck suggests opting for response A, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging and learning from failures rather than shielding from them. To understand more about the science behind this approach, explore further on MindsetWorks.

Why Choose a Tough Love Approach?

This choice might seem harsh, but it’s rooted in the philosophy of a growth mindset. Here’s why embracing this approach can be beneficial:

  • It teaches accountability and the reality that effort correlates with outcomes.
  • It avoids reinforcing the notion that failure is detached from effort or externalizes the blame.
  • It encourages viewing challenges as opportunities to learn and improve rather than obstacles.

For a deeper dive into the impacts of different types of praise on student achievement, read the article “The Perils and Promises of Praise” on ASCD.

While delivering such a message, it’s crucial to balance honesty with support. Expressing confidence in their potential and framing the conversation around growth and effort can make a significant difference.

Constructive Ways to Move Forward

After addressing the issue, consider these steps to support your teenager:

  • Review the material together to identify gaps in understanding.
  • Encourage them to seek help, such as tutoring or additional practice, especially in challenging areas.
  • Set realistic, incremental goals to improve in mathematics, tracking progress along the way.

By fostering a growth mindset, you help your teenager see failure not as a setback but as a stepping stone towards success. This mindset is crucial, not just in academics, but in all aspects of life.

If you’re interested in deepening your understanding of effective communication and support strategies for teenagers, consider joining one of our upcoming sample coach training sessions. These sessions offer valuable insights and tools to help you guide your teenager towards achieving their full potential. Check below for available dates and secure your spot.